Pentagon proposes Taiwanese arms sale

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The deal would include sixty Black Hawk helicopters.

The US Department of Defense has notified Congress of a potential arms sale to Taiwan, with a value of $6 billion, that was first pledged by the Bush administration.

The deal, that would include helicopters and anti-missile defences, angered China, who stated that the move would "seriously damage" US–China relations, as Beijing considers the island to be a break-away province of China, having split away after civil war in 1949.

There is a stand-off between China and Taiwan. China has a large number of weapons aimed at Taiwan, and has threatened to use them in the past. Taiwan denounces this, warning that, if 1,500 missiles were not removed, relations between the two nations would deteriorate.

The act of notifying Congress is a legal requirement and does not mean that the sale will go ahead. A thirty-day deadline is in place for politicians to decide on the proposition before it goes ahead. In a statement, the Pentagon listed the items being negotiated over, including 114 Patriot missiles and sixty helicopters. It will also include two minesweepers. The US is the main arms supplier for Taiwan.

General James L. Jones, the National Security Advisor for the Obama administration, said that China had been fully consulted about the deal. "We all recognise that there are certain things that countries will do periodically that may not make everybody completely happy," he stated. However, he maintained that the US was "bent towards a new relationship" between themselves and China.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C., Wang Baodong, said yesterday that the arms sale was a "gross intervention into China's internal affairs". He went on to assert that the trade "seriously endangers China's national security".

Ties between the United States and China, already stretched by the recent row over internet censorship, in which Google threatened to withdraw its presence in the country, have been strained by the announcement. China maintains, according to a press release on 22 January, that the Internet in their country is "open", with the "most vibrant" sites based in China. Beijing wishes the United States to "respect each other's core interest", and to "ensure the healthy stable development" of their relationship.