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China has asked the U.S. to cancel any planned arms sale to Taiwan, accusing Washington of interfering in domestic Chinese affairs.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced to Congress it is likely to make a major sale of arms to the East Asian state when it outlined a $2.2 billion deal to provide tanks, anti-aircraft missiles and related equipment.
Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), whereas mainland China to its west is known as the People's Republic of China (PRC). Beijing policy dictates that China will refuse diplomatic relations with any country that recognizes the island as a sovereign state.
Added to that historical tension, the military sale comes at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing are at a particularly low ebb due to the ongoing trade war.
China's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters Tuesday that the sale of weapons "seriously violates the one-China principle," and "grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and undermines China's sovereignty and security interests."
Geng added that China had already lodged formal complaints opposing any sale through "diplomatic channels, "and urged Washington that to avoid to disrupting stability in the Taiwan Strait, it must "immediately cancel the planned arms sale and stop military relations with Taipei."
The possible deal would include 108 General Dynamics M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles. The sale could also include mounted machine guns and ammunitions.
In 1982, the United States issued the "Six Assurances" — six foreign policy principles designed to reassure Taiwan that it would continue to support the island even in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.
In a statement on its English-language website, the Taiwan Presidential Office expressed "sincere thanks" to the United States for helping the island strengthen its defense.