China to press for end to US arms sale to Taiwan

Associated Press

Beijing, April 6:

China will use a visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney next week to press Washington to stop selling advanced weapons to rival Taiwan, arguing that they damage regional stability, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today. Cheney’s April 13-15 visit comes two weeks after the Pentagon approved the sale to Taiwan of an early-warning military radar system that could help to defend against Chinese missiles. Beijing claims the island as its own territory and has threatened repeatedly to invade.

"We are firmly opposed to the export of advanced weapons to Taiwan, which violates its (Washington’s) own repeated commitments and also destroys stability across the straits," Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular news briefing. "The Chinese position will be expounded during the visit." Kong echoed earlier Chinese comments that the fate of Taiwan, ruled separately since 1949, is the "most sensitive and important" issue in relations with Washington.

The US has no formal relations with Taiwan but is its main arms supplier and military ally. Cheney’s visit comes three weeks after Washington congratulated Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian on his re-election after voting whose results have been challenged. Beijing criticized the US message.