U.S. arms sales to Taiwan may strain ties with China even as the two countries cooperate more closely, current and former Chinese officials told their American counterparts in Beijing at a conference that ended yesterday.
Taiwan is the most important issue in relations between the U.S. and China, as they confront a global economic crisis that has highlighted their interdependence, the officials told former American diplomats Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski during the two-day celebration of 30 years of formal relations.
By Dune Lawrence
“Recently, some hard-won advances have been made in cross- strait relations,” said Li Zhaoxing, who was China’s foreign minister from 2003 to 2007. “We certainly don’t want something like arms sales to disrupt” the progress.
China, with the world’s largest regular army, has more than 900 missiles along its southeastern coast aimed at Taiwan. The Taiwanese military is planning to buy $6.5 billion of U.S. weapons including Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Patriot anti-missile systems. China has frozen military exchanges with the U.S. since October over the arms sales.
“The Taiwan issue is the most important and sensitive one in relations between the two countries,” Dai Bingguo, China’s highest ranking official responsible for foreign relations, told the conference participants.
Relations between China and Taiwan warmed after President Ma Ying-jeou took office last year and reversed course on his predecessor’s pro independence stance.