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China Calls on US to Stop Selling Weapons to Taiwan - 2004-04-01

China is accusing the United States of breaking promises it made more than three decades ago to recognize Beijing as the only legitimate government of China. The accusation came as Chinese officials called on Washington to stop selling weapons to Taiwan.

The accusation came from Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan, who says Beijing opposes the planned U.S. sale of radar systems to Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province.

At a regular briefing Thursday, Mr. Kong says China has always opposed American sales of advanced weapons to the island.

"Especially under the current complicated and sensitive situation across the Taiwan Strait, we ask the United States to be faithful to what it says and abide by its promises and not send the wrong signal to Taiwan's pro-independence forces," he said.

There was no immediate comment from the United States following the Chinese official's remarks.

Taiwan, self-governed since 1949, has been rocked by demonstrations following the narrow election victory on March 20 of incumbent President Chen Shui-bian, whose Democratic Progressive Party is backed by those who want the island to formally declare its independence from China. His opponents, who favor a more conciliatory approach to China relations, are demanding a recount.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait were running high before the election, with China accusing the island's leaders of provoking conflict by pushing independence. In the run-up to the Taiwanese elections, China repeatedly said it would not hesitate to use force if the island moved toward formal independence. China was especially angered by a referendum on election day in which Taiwanese voters were asked if their government should boost its defenses in the face of a foreign threat, meaning China. The referendum was voted down.

Taiwan officials have accused China of pointing what they say are hundreds of missiles at the island. Washington, under the terms of a 25-year-old domestic law, has agreed to defend the island against an attack from the mainland and is its main supplier of weapons.

The Pentagon on Wednesday said Taiwan had requested the sale of two long-range early warning radar capable of detecting ballistic and cruise missiles, in a deal worth nearly $1.8 billion.