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Michael Selby-Green

China protests huge U.S. arms deal with Taiwan

The United States has approved a $330 million arms deal with China's neighbor Taiwan, in a move set to further increase tensions between Beijing and Washington amidst the escalating trade war, The South China Morning Post reported.

The news comes as China said on Sept. 24, 2018, that it was impossible to hold trade talks with the US while Washington's tariffs are like "a knife" to China's neck, following a fresh $200 billion of tariffs on China, and US President Donald Trump's threat of $267 billion more.

The proposed arms deal which was announced on Sept. 24, 2018, by the Pentagon and will be put before the US Congress would include parts for F16 and F5 fighter jets, C130 cargo planes, Taiwan's Indigenous Defence Fighter, and other aircraft systems.


The sale will contribute to the "foreign policy and national security of the United States," the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said, adding that Taiwan "continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region."

Taiwan has welcomed the move, and said that the deal helps the independent nation off the coast of China strengthen its defenses and deal with the challenges from Beijing. A spokesperson for the presidential office of Taiwan said, it would boost confidence in the face of "severe" security challenges, adding "We greatly appreciate that the US government takes note of the national security of Taiwan."

President Donald Trump.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

China sees Taiwan as its sovereign territory, and as a breakaway province that must be united with the mainland by force if necessary. China has previously warned the US not to sell weapons to the country or establish close military ties there, the South China Morning Post reported.

The sale which is not yet finalized is the second under Trump following a $1.4 billion sale in June 2017 that also prompted anger from Beijing.

Critics of the deal in Washington said it bows to the wishes of Chinese opposition including US defence secretary, Mike Pompeo who criticised the Obama administration for delaying weapons sales to the area.

Officials in Taipei and Washington say it is now likely that the Trump administration will resume regular weapons sales to Taiwan, the Financial Times reported.

The escalating tensions come in the context of China rejecting an invitation for official talks in Washington, with its vice commerce minister, Wang Shouwen saying, "Now that the US has adopted this type of large-scale trade restrictions, they're holding a knife to someone's throat. Under these circumstances, how can negotiations proceed?"

US military officials said On Sept. 23, 2018, that the Chinese government denied permission for a US Navy ship to do a port visit in Hong Kong in October 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported. The denial comes amid escalating tensions between the countries over both economic and military issues.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.