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Beijing Says US Arms Sale to Taiwan Harms China's National Security

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister summons U.S. Ambassador in Beijing Saturday to lodge a protest

China's foreign minister says U.S. plans to sell weapons to Taiwan harm China's national security and its reunification efforts.

In remarks reported Sunday, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in Cyprus Saturday that China firmly opposes the move, which he said runs counter to the U.S. commitment to support the peaceful growth of cross-Strait relations.

A U.S. State Department spokesman (P.J. Crowley) said Saturday that U.S. policy toward Taiwan contributes to stability and security in the region.

U.S. officials announced Friday plans to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion in military equipment.

China's Defense Ministry said the sale would result in severe harm to China-US cooperation.

On Saturday, China suspended military exchanges and security talks with the United States. China also threatened sanctions on U.S. firms that sell Taiwan arms.

In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou said the arms deal will boost the island's defenses and give it a sense of security as it builds closer economic ties with mainland China.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei summoned U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman in Beijing Saturday to lodge a protest. The Chinese official urged Washington to cancel the deal, which he described as a threat to China's national security.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei have improved for the first time in decades since the two sides split in 1949. But nationalists in Taiwan have accused President Ma of building close ties with China at the expense of the island's sovereignty.

The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday it notified Congress of a plan to sell 60 Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot missiles, radar sets and communications equipment to Taiwan.

The package does not include F-16 fighter jets that the self-ruled island had wanted.

The United States has a treaty commitment to help the island maintain its defenses, and wants Taiwan and China to settle their differences peacefully.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan its sovereign territory, and has threatened to use military force if Taiwan attempts to claim formal independence.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.