China hits back at US decision on Taiwan sales

BEIJING, August 27, 2010 (AFP) - China on Friday called on the United States to revoke export licences granted to US firms selling radar equipment to Taiwan, warning the move could hurt ties between the two countries.

US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said this week the move would "allow the commercial export to Taiwan of defence services, technical data, and defence articles to support Taiwan's existing air defence radar system".

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu responded: "China firmly opposes the United States selling weapons and relevant technical assistance to Taiwan."

"We urge the United States... to revoke their wrong decision and put an end to arms sales to Taiwan and military ties with Taiwan to avoid causing new harm to Sino-US ties," she said in a statement faxed to AFP.

China as a rule opposes arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers a part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war and have since been governed separately.

Beijing angrily suspended military and security contacts with the United States earlier this year when Washington announced an arms package for Taiwan that included missiles, helicopters and equipment for the island's F-16 jets.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou last week renewed calls to Washington to sell the island an upgraded version of the F16 fighter, following a Pentagon report warning of China's growing military might.

Beijing said the report was "not beneficial" to military ties, and reiterated that it did not pose a military threat to any country.