Beijing, Aug 24 (EFE).- China on Thursday demanded that the United States “immediately cancel” its latest plan to sell infrared search and track systems for F-16 fighter jets and other equipment to Taiwan.
“China urges the US to immediately cancel plans to sell arms to the island of Taiwan and stop the dangerous trend of arming the island,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in a press conference in Beijing.
“China will take resolute, powerful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang added.
The US government had on Wednesday authorized the potential sale of Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems for F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, with an estimated value of $500 million, according to a statement from the state department.
The purchase contract, pending congressional approval, also includes aircraft and munitions support equipment, test and support gear, computer software, spare parts and personnel training.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) will acquire these capabilities from Maryland-based Lockheed Martin Corporation.
“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the state department said.
It added that the arms deal would enhance Taiwan’s capability to address current and future threats, support its airspace defense, bolster regional security, and increase interoperability with the United States through its F-16 program.
Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs welcomed the approval of the arms sale and insisted that the deal by Washington “emphasizes its unwavering commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and reflects the strategic importance of peace and stability in Taiwan Strait.”
The announcement comes less than a month after the White House announced a historic $345 million military aid package for Taiwan from the Pentagon’s inventory.
Taiwan is one of the major sources of contention between the US and China, with Washington serving as Taipei’s main arms supplier, a relationship that Beijing has repeatedly protested.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, considering it a “rebel province” since the Kuomintang nationalists retreated there in 1949 following their defeat against the communist army, and has not ruled out the use of force to retake it. EFE