The U.S. State Department has given its go-ahead to sell high-end American military tech and equipment including M1A2T Abrams battle tanks and Stinger missiles worth 2.2 billion U.S. dollars to Taiwan in what is being seen as a major provocation to China.
Following the State Department’s approval, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified the U.S. Congress on Monday of the potential arms sale to Taiwan, according to multiple media reports on Tuesday. American lawmakers have 30 days to decide whether they will pass the proposal.
Beijing had expressed serious concerns last month when the possible U.S.-Taiwan deal was first reported with the Chinese foreign ministry urging Washington to freeze the proposal to avoid harming bilateral ties.
"China has urged the U.S. to realize the sensitivity of the issue and the harm this could bring, and hoped that the U.S. can abide by the One-China Policy and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said on June 6.
"China hopes that the U.S. will stop selling weapons as well as military connections to Taiwan, so as not to hurt the relationship between the two sides. The U.S. needs to get back on track and meet China halfway," he added.
'Fight to the end'
Earlier on June 2, Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, warned that China would "fight to the end" anyone who tried to split Taiwan from China stressing that any "foreign intervention in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure."
"If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese military has no choice but to fight at all costs for national unity," Wei said.
Accusing the U.S. of interfering in China's internal affairs through the so-called Taiwan Relations Act, which governs Washington's relations with the southeast China island region, he said: "We can find no justifiable reasons for the U.S. to interfere in the Taiwan question by its domestic law."
"Any underestimation of the PLA's (People's Liberation Army) resolve and will is extremely dangerous," he warned. "We will strive for the prospects of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and greatest efforts, but we make no promise to renounce the use of force. Safeguarding national unity is the sacred duty of the PLA."
In its statement to the U.S. Congress, the DCSA attempted to appease China's concerns.
"The sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, would not alter the basic military balance in the region," the DCSA claimed.
Reuters reported that the sale could also include mounted machine guns, ammunition, Hercules armored vehicles for recovering inoperative tanks, heavy equipment transporters and related support.
'No tolerance' approach
Also last month, a Chinese mainland spokesperson expressed that any attempt to separate Taiwan from China will not be tolerated, echoing Wei’s remarks.
"No tolerance of any separatist scheme or activity for 'Taiwan independence,'" An Fengshan, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a press conference on June 12.
An vowed that China must be and will be reunified and it is also the inevitable requirement of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the new era.
Calling Taiwan compatriots as flesh-and-blood brothers with a shared future, the spokesperson said: "We are willing to strive for peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and greatest efforts."
"We make no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means," An said. He added this does not target compatriots in Taiwan, but the interference of external forces and the very small number of "Taiwan independence" separatists and their activities.