China vows countermeasures against US’ arms sales to Taiwan; provocative move only ‘accelerates’ reunification

This handout picture taken on July 15, 2020 and released by Taiwan’s Defence Ministry shows a warship launching a US-made Harpoon missile during the annual “Han Kuang” (Han Glory) military drill from an unlocated place in the sea near Taiwan. (Photo by Handout / TAIWAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / Taiwan Defence Ministry” – NO MARKETING – NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Chen Qingqing, September 4, 2022 — China urged the US to stop arms sales and military interactions with the island of Taiwan and immediately revoke the latest approval of $1.1 billion in arms sales to the Chinese region, vowing to resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures against the package, the largest since US President Joe Biden took office.

Chinese experts described the approval as a dangerous provocation following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reckless visit to the island, saying that Washington seeking to enhance the island’s military will only accelerate China’s national reunification process.

The Biden administration formally notified Congress on Friday of its intent to sell the island $1.1 billion worth of defensive arms, the Washington Post reported. The arms sales include 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 100 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and support for a surveillance radar system. This fifth and largest arms sale to the island is expected to be approved by Congress, according to the report.

Dirty deals: US has upgraded scale, performance of weaponry sold to Taiwan island Graphic: Xiong Xiaoying/GT

Dirty deals: US has upgraded scale, performance of weaponry sold to Taiwan island Graphic: Xiong Xiaoying/GT

Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. The US interferes in China’s internal affairs and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests by selling arms to the Taiwan region, Liu Pengyu, spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy to the US, said in a recent Tweet.

“China is firmly opposed to this. China urges the US to honor its commitment, earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, stop arms sales to and military interactions with Taiwan, and immediately revoke relevant arms sales to Taiwan,” he said.

Some Chinese experts consider the US’s tactics of enhancing the island’s military capabilities pose a certain threat to China’s national security, toward which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will continue its vigilance and will be well-prepared for any possible incidents.

By increasing the provocation on the Taiwan question, Washington unilaterally changed the status quo of the Taiwan Straits, adding more risks not only to the cross-Straits situation but also to US-China relations which will lead to increased risk of strategic miscalculations, experts said.

“The latest round of arms sales by the US aims to provoke China while gaining more benefits for its arms merchants, as those weapons are sold at much higher prices to the island compared to market prices,” Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

It also reflects the stupidity of the DPP authority as the arms sales entirely serve US interests and the authority has to pay much more for the profits of American merchants, he said.

Some Chinese experts said earlier that despite enhanced military capabilities, the US weapons will not change the military power balance across the Taiwan Straits as the PLA has an absolute advantage, as the launchers of the Harpoon missiles, the F-16 fighter jets that carry the Sidewinder missiles and the surveillance radar will be among the first targets of the PLA.

In fact, modern war is a systematic confrontation. One or two weapons cannot play any role, Xin Qiang, director of the Taiwan studies center with the Shanghai-based Fudan University and the deputy head of the university’s US studies center, told the Global Times on Sunday.

“Especially in the face of the overwhelming overall advantage of the mainland, how much role Taiwan can really play by buying such weapons remains a question,” he said.

While Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan changed the status quo of the Taiwan Straits, it appears that increased arms sales to the island will be a general trend of the Biden administration in the next few years by using the so-called Porcupine strategy to increase interoperability between the US and island, Lü Xiang, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

As such tactics pose a threat to China on overall security, the PLA will continue enhancing our defensive capabilities, conducting drills near the island or even flying over the island to maintain vigilance, Lü noted. “It will lead to fierce struggle surrounding the island. Though China has not announced a timetable for reunification, we are getting closer to it,” he said.

The PLA drills around the island of Taiwan in August, seen by Chinese experts as a rehearsal of a reunification-by-force operation, featured island encirclement with warships and warplanes as well as fire strikes by long-range rockets and conventional missiles.

Amid escalating tensions over the Taiwan Straits, the US government believes there is a need to show some political gestures – the so-called support – for the island in order to politically appease the island through arms sales, which will not be meaningful in terms of military power, Xin said.

Following Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, China announced eight countermeasures in response to such highly provocative visit including canceling China-US theater commanders talk, defense policy coordination talks, military maritime security consultative mechanism and suspending cooperation on illegal immigration repatriation, drug control and climate change. Given Washington has not corrected its mistakes and continues to provoke on the Taiwan question, Chinese experts believe that there is little chance that bilateral relations will improve in the short term.

“No matter it is Pelosi’s visit or other matters, the US keeps acting differently from what it has said, and it can’t uphold its commitments, which makes the escalation of the Taiwan Straits situation unavoidable,” Xin said.

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