Friday, January 29, 2010
China says cooperation with United States threatened by proposed arms sale to Taiwan
Word from Beijing is that China is "strongly indignant" and threatening to disrupt ties if the United States goes ahead with a planned $6.4 billion sale of advanced armaments to Taiwan. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said Saturday that Beijing considers the proposed sale of Black Hawk helicopters, advanced Patriot missiles and other equipment to be "crude interference in China's domestic affairs and seriously harm China's national security," according to the Reuters international news service. "The United States' announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and cooperation between the two countries," He said in remarks given to the U.S. ambassador and published on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Web site. "This will lead to repercussions that neither side wishes to see." China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province, but Western nations know it is where the Nationalist Chinese fled after being defeated by the Communist Chinese in 1949, and is now a democratic nation of 23 million. But it has been a source of friction between the China and the United States for 60 years, since Beijing wants to incorporate it into the mainland and the United States has pledged to defend its independence. In fact, the United States refused to recognize the People's Republic of China until 1979, eight years after Beijing replaced Taiwan at the United Nations. U.S. officials said Taiwan needed the advanced armaments to strengthen its position in negotiations with China, particularly since a "thaw" in relations that began in 2008, Reuters said. Despite all the rhetoric, it is difficult to see how the sale of arms to Taiwan affects the relationship between China and United States, except to make Beijing a little uncomfortable. In 2008, when Washington sold $6.5 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, and Beijing reacted by delaying a meeting on military cooperation with the United States. But Washington and Beijing are too intertwined economically to let even this do more than perhaps delay their burgeoning cooperation in financial and military sectors. There are simply too many advantages to such cooperation to turn back now.