China on Wednesday strongly criticized an expected U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, saying it should be canceled to avoid harming relations between Taipei and Beijing.
The criticism from Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, follows a stern warning from China’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday that the sale threatened relations with the U.S.
“We resolutely oppose sales of weaponry or military technology to Taiwan by any country in any form or using any excuse,” Ma told reporters at a regularly scheduled briefing.
“Meanwhile, we also hope that the Taiwanese side will treasure the excellent hard-won results of the peaceful development of relations between the sides and do more to benefit the improvement and development of ties between the two sides,” Ma said.
China summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires in Beijing to protest against the U.S. administration’s authorization of $1.83 billion arms sales to Taiwan and said it would impose sanctions on the firms involved, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported.
The U.S. State Department said Raytheon RTN.N and Lockheed Martin were the main contractors for weapons in the sales authorized on Wednesday.
It was not clear what impact Chinese actions might have on the firms.
China claims Taiwan as part of Chinese territory, to be reunified with by force if necessary, and opposes all arms sales to the island.
Despite that, relations have undergone a steady improvement over the past two decades, especially under the China-friendly administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou.
That culminated last month in a meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore, the first time the heads of state had met since the sides split amid civil war in 1949.
U.S. congressional aides say the Obama administration is planning its first arms sale to Taiwan in four years to include navy frigates, mine sweepers, Stinger missiles and other equipment. The U.S. has long been the primary supplier to the island’s armed forces.