US Angers China After Taiwan Arms Deal

The Obama administration announced the sale Friday of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems, helicopters, mine-sweeping ships and communications equipment to Taiwan in a long-expected move that sparked an angry protest from China, Washington Post reoprts.

In a strongly worded statement on Saturday, China's Defense Ministry suspended military exchanges with the United States and summoned the U.S. defense attache to lodge a "solemn protest" over the sale, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

"Considering the severe harm and odious effect of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese side has decided to suspend planned mutual military visits," Xinhua quoted the ministry as saying. The Foreign Ministry said China also would put sanctions on U.S. companies supplying the equipment.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said the sale would have a "serious negative impact on exchange and cooperation in major areas between the two countries, causing results that both sides do not want to see."

The Foreign Ministry here said the Chinese government will also impose sanctions on U.S. companies that sell arms to Taiwan, and review all other areas of co-operation between the two countries.

Taiwan and China have been administered separately since 1949, when the Nationalists fled to the island following a defeat by the Communists in the civil war. Beijing seeks unification with the island, and ties have warmed since 2008, following the election of Ma Ying-jeou in Taiwan, who is known for his China-friendly policies.

The U.S. says it has pledged military support to Taiwan to give it greater strength in negotiations with Beijing, but has promised the Chinese government that it would gradually reduce arms sales as the two sides move towards a settlement, The Hindu reports.

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