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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"Taiwan is really quite pleased with what it has been offered"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 25 April, 2001, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
China steps up arms protest
Missile on display at Beijings Military Museum
The US says China is a growing threat to Taiwan
China has made its strongest protest yet at Washington's decision to sell advanced weaponry to Taiwan, saying the move will cause devastating damage to Sino-US relations.

The warning was conveyed to the US ambassador, Joseph Prueher, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing.

State television reported that Mr Prueher was told of China's strong indignation and absolute opposition to the planned sale - and warned that China reserved the right to take further action.

US ambassador to China Joseph Prueher
Joseph Prueher: Summoned to the Foreign Ministry
Earlier, US President George W Bush had shrugged off Chinese criticism by saying his administration would do whatever it took to help Taiwan defend itself.

"The Chinese must understand that we have got common interests," said Mr Bush.

"But there is going to be some areas where we disagree and, evidently, one area is whether or not the United States ought to provide defensive arms for Taiwan, which I have done."

'Strong representations'

The official Xinhua news agency said China had made "strong representations" to Mr Prueher during the meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing.


Selling more advanced weapons is tantamount to restoring the military alliance between the US and Taiwan

China Daily newspaper
State television reported Mr Li as saying the decision "will have a grave impact on cooperation in the sphere of non-proliferation and bring devastating damage to China-U.S. relations."

The sale has also been strongly condemned in China's state-run media.

"Arms purchases can only increase the threat to regional peace and stability, and backfire," said an editorial in the People's Liberation Army daily.

The China Daily newspaper went further, warning that the move might even "destroy the premise for Sino-US relations."

However, Taiwan's President, Chen Shui-bian, has formally thanked the United States, saying the arms deal will help strengthen his country's security.

The deal offers a package of ships, anti-submarine aircraft and submarines, but not the sophisticated naval radar system Aegis, which Taiwan had requested.

Growing threat

The US says Taiwan needs to beef up its defences in response to a growing threat from China. Beijing rejects these claims, and accuses the US of violating its sovereignty.

US President George W Bush
President Bush: Not worried
China considers Taiwan a renegade province which must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Sino-US relations are already strained following the collision between an American spy plane and a Chinese fighter aircraft on 1 April.

China released the 24 crew members after 11 days, but is still holding the US aircraft.

However, President Bush has said he does not expect either the sale, or the spy plane stand-off to affect his state visit to China in the autumn.

"I am going to go over to Shanghai in the fall and fully expect that the invitation that has been extended to me will continue to remain in place," he said.

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See also:

25 Apr 01 | Americas
Bush defends Taiwan arms sales
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
US opts for 'strategic balance'
24 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
China unhappy but relieved
20 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
War games add to tension
17 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: US-China military rivalry
16 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China builds new missile base
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