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China threatens US with ‘strong measures’ over $100M Taiwan arms sale

Patriot missile launchers. (US Army 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command/Released)
February 10, 2022

China vowed this week to take “legitimate and strong measures” against a $100 million arms sale between the U.S. and Taiwan that it claims is a violation of its sovereignty.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao reacted to U.S. plans to sell Patriot missile defense systems and provide technical support for the defense systems as part of a $100 million deal over the next five years. The Patriot system is designed to intercept incoming enemy missiles, including ballistic missiles.

Zhao said arms sale and Patriot system support between the U.S. and Taiwan “seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué, gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China firmly opposes this and strongly condemns this.”

While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China maintains that the island is a part of its territory and has repeatedly demanded the U.S. sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

While the U.S. recognizes the connection between China and Taiwan as part of the so-called “One-China Policy,” the U.S. continues informal diplomatic relations with China, including arms sales, through the Taiwan Relations Act.

The day before Zhao’s comments, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced it had notified Congress of the arms sale.

“China urges the US to abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately revoke the arms sales plan, and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan,” Zhao said. “China will take legitimate and strong measures to resolutely defend its sovereignty and security interests.”

Asked to specify what actions China might take in response to the arms sale, Zhao said, “Let’s wait and see.”

China similarly threatened “legitimate and necessary countermeasures” after President Joe Biden approved the first U.S. arms deal with Taiwan of his presidency, worth $750 million. The arms sale included the transfer of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems, 20 ammunition support vehicles and an artillery fire support command and control system.

China also announced plans to sanction U.S. weapons contractors Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon over an estimated $1.8 billion brought forth in the fall of 2020 under President Donald Trump. That arms sale entailed an approximately $1 billion package of AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile air-to-ground missiles from Boeing, $436.1 million in High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers from Lockheed Martin and $367.2 million in aircraft reconnaissance pods from Collins Aerospace, a subsidiary of Raytheon.