Chinese Military Says US Turning Taiwan Into a "Powder Keg" With Arms Sales

The State Department $440 million in arms deals for Taiwan last week

The Chinese Defense Ministry on Wednesday said the US was turning Taiwan into a “powder keg” in a warning over the Biden administration approving new arms deals for Taiwan worth $440 million.

“China is firmly opposed to US arms sales to Taiwan and has lodged stern representations with the US,” said Col. Tan Kefei, spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry.

The new arms sales were approved by the State Department last week and are for $332.2 million in 30mm ammo and related equipment and $108 million for spare parts for a variety of military equipment.

“We urge the US side to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, immediately cease arms sales to Taiwan, stop any form of military collusion with Taiwan, earnestly fulfill its commitment to not support ‘Taiwan independence’, and stop going further down the wrong and dangerous path,” Tan said.

The US agreed to sever formal diplomatic and military ties with Taiwan as part of its normalization agreement with China, which was formalized in 1979. In 1982, the US and China issued a third joint communiqué regarding US arms sales to Taiwan.

The 1982 communiqué says that the US government states “that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.”

However, the US government left its options open to continue arms sales to Taiwan. During negotiations with China on the third communiqué, the US agreed to “Six Assurances” for Taiwan, one of which stated the US “would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan.”

Another assurance given to Taiwan said that the US would uphold the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which states the US “will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

On the day the 1982 communiqué was issued, President Reagan said in an internal memo that “the US willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan-PRC [People’s Republic of China] differences. It should be clearly understood that the linkage between these two matters is a permanent imperative of US foreign policy.”

In recent years, China has stepped up military pressure on Taiwan, but mainly in response to the US increasing military and diplomatic support for the island. For example, China launched its largest-ever drills around Taiwan in August 2022 in response to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visiting the island. The Chinese military has kept up the pressure since then by regularly sending planes across the median line, an informal barrier separating the two sides of the Strait that China used to avoid crossing. Hawks in Congress point to this activity as a reason to increase arms sales and other military support for Taiwan.

Source: AntiWar.

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