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China Expresses Concerns About US Arms Sales to Taiwan - 2004-07-23


The Chinese foreign minister told a top U.S. commander Friday that military exchanges between Washington and Taipei must come to an end. The comments were made as both Taiwan and China begin military exercises and as cross-strait relations are strained.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing stressed to the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Thomas Fargo, that Beijing is unhappy about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

After meeting with the admiral Friday, Mr. Li said the weapons sales only aggravate an already tense situation.

Mr. Li says that China's main concern is Taiwan and providing advanced weapons to Taipei will not help to peacefully resolve the problem.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has threatened to invade the island if its government declares independence.

Taiwan this week began a series of war games intended to demonstrate its ability to repel an attack from the mainland.

Beijing also is holding a massive land, air and sea operation to showcase its advanced weapons systems and troop strength.

Over the past few weeks the U.S. government has reiterated its commitment to preserving the peace across the Taiwan Strait and its commitment to the one China policy, which recognizes that Taiwan is part of China.

Washington is urging both sides to show restraint and avoid any direct confrontation.

"We've opposed unilateral moves by either side that would change the status quo," said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher. "For Beijing, this means no use of force or other forms of coercion against Taiwan. For Taipei, it means exercising prudence in managing all aspects of cross-strait relations."

While the U.S. government recognizes Beijing's claim over Taiwan, it still provides Taipei with military hardware.

Admiral Fargo, who is based in Hawaii, stopped in Beijing for talks with senior Chinese defense officials. His trip to Asia includes stops in Mongolia and Japan.

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