China threatens retaliation over US arms sale to Taiwan

China is threatening to retaliate against the U.S. after the Trump administration approved a $1.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the autonomous island that Beijing considers its own territory. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. of “interfering” in Beijing’s affairs and said the sale could lead to regional insecurity.

“It seriously interferes in China’s internal affairs, seriously harms China’s sovereignty and security interests, sends out gravely wrong signals to Taiwan independence forces and severely undermines China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes it,” Zhao said Thursday.


Zhao urged the U.S. to “stop arms sales to and military ties with the Taiwan region, cancel its arms sales plans to avoid further harming China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability,” warning that “China will make a legitimate and necessary reaction in the light of the development of the situation.” 

The rebuke comes after the Trump administration issued a formal notification of approval for the arms sale, which will include 135 air-to-ground cruise missiles, called Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response missiles, and related equipment; 11 truck-mounted rocket launchers, called High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems; and six MS-110 reconnaissance pods that can be attached to Taiwan’s fighter jets. 

“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the administration said in the notices announcing the sale. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.” 

The administration added the transfer “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.” 

Taiwan has repeatedly said it has no interest in engaging in an arms race with mainland China, though Zhao sought to cast doubt on that claim in light of the U.S. arms sale. 


“If they truly don’t want to engage in an arms race, then they should match their words with actions, instead of saying one thing and doing the opposite,” he said. 

The U.S., like many countries around the world, has no formal ties with Taiwan but has emerged as the island’s largest international backer, sparking repeated rebukes from Beijing over Washington’s military assistance. 

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Relations between the U.S. and China have severely soured in recent months over the coronavirus pandemic, trade, Chinese human rights violations in Hong Kong and against Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups, and Beijing’s efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. elections.