On Wednesday, China blasted a huge planned US arms shipment to self-ruled Taiwan and threatened to sanction firms involved in the sale of F-16 fighter jets. After a huge military hardware sale was confirmed last month, the US State Department approved on Tuesday the transfer of 66 Lockheed Martin-built F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan in a US$8 billion deal.
The deals come as ties between Washington and Beijing are already strained by a punitive multi-billion trade war. Geng Shuang, the foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, “China will take all necessary measures to safeguard our interests including imposing sanctions on the US companies participating in this arms sale to Taiwan.”
He further claimed that the sale “is a serious interference in our internal affairs and undermines our sovereignty and security interest.”
China has already stated that it sees Taiwan as a part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it forcefully if needed. China will take action against any country that will give Taiwan diplomatic support or legitimacy.
In a statement, on Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump had approved the proposed sale after Congress was notified last week. Pompeo said the F-16s “are deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China.”
“Our actions are consistent with past US policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties,” he added.
After lodging diplomatic protests against the deal, China on Wednesday urged the US to “cancel this arms sale plan at once, stop selling arms to Taiwan and cut its military contact with Taiwan”.
As China decides to increase its military incursions into its air space, Taiwan plans to upgrade its air defenses. Presently, Taiwan has a fleet of old model F-16s purchased in 1992 which have undergone several crucial upgrades.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement, “This proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States.”