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China hits out at US aggression over Taiwan arms sales

CHINA will hit US companies with sanctions if they sell arms to Taiwan after Washington approved sales of $2.2 billion (£1.7bn) in tanks, missiles and related military hardware.

Beijing warned yesterday that the provocative move “harmed China’s sovereignty and national security” and that the sanctions were necessary to protect its national interests.

Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the government had made “stern representations” to the US not to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. China’s firm opposition to US arms sales to Taiwan is clear and consistent,” he said.

“The erroneous actions of the US … interfere in China’s internal affairs, harm China’s sovereignty and security interests … [and] seriously harm peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Mr Wu added.

He called for the US to end arms sales to Taiwan and “stop all forms of military contact” with the island to avoid “further damage to the relations between the two countries and their armed forces.”

The People’s Republic of China claims sovereignty over Taiwan under its one-China policy.

Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland since 1949, when the defeated nationalist government fled there following the victory of communist forces led by Mao Zedong.

But the island is not part of the United Nations and has diplomatic ties with just 16 out of the 193 UN member states.

Mr Wu warned yesterday: “The Chinese armed forces have the firm will, full confidence and sufficient capability to thwart any form of interference by external forces and separatist acts of the ‘Taiwan independence’ and will take all necessary measures to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity.”

News of the arms deal came as Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen arrived in the US as part of a tour, including four Caribbean countries, which has angered Beijing.

Ms Tsai was accused of “playing a game of brinksmanship” by building up Taiwan’s military defences.

In a meeting in New York on Thursday, she demanded UN recognition for her island of 23 million people.

She declared: “Taiwan will never succumb to any threats [from Beijing], now or in the future. Any obstacles will only strengthen Taiwan’s resolution to join the international community.”

US-China relations appeared to have thawed last week after the countries agreed to restart negotiations in a bid to end a bitter trade war.

President Donald Trump has imposed a series of sanctions on Chinese goods, triggering a tit-for-tat escalation.

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