Washington: The Obama administration has announced a $1.83bn arms sale to Taiwan, triggering an immediate diplomatic protest from China and threats of retaliation against Taipei.
The arms deal is the first offered by the US to the self-governing island in four years. Beijing, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory has demanded the deal be scrapped to avoid harming relations.
Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, in a statement posted on the ministry’s website, said: “China resolutely opposes the sale of weapons to Taiwan by the US.
“In order to safeguard the nation’s interests, the Chinese side has decided to take necessary measures, including the imposition of sanctions against companies participating in the arms sale to Taiwan.”
Similar sanctions have been threatened by Beijing in the past, although there is no evidence they have had any significant impact.
US and EU companies are banned from selling military technology to China.
A US Embassy spokesman declined to comment on a meeting between Mr Zheng and Washington’s second-highest ranking diplomat in Beijing.
The deal includes two decommissioned US Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
There is also support for Taiwan’s capabilities in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and a weapons system to defend against anti-ship missiles.
Congress has 30 days to review the sale, but is unlikely to raise objections. There has been concern that Taiwan is unable to defend itself against an increasingly powerful mainland China.
Since 2010, the Obama administration has announced more than $12bn in arms sales to Taiwan, but this is the first since the $5.9bn sale in September 2011 which included upgrades to F-16 fighter jets.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said: “There’s no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China.
“We still want to work to establish a better, more transparent, more effective relationship with China in the region and we’re going to continue to work at that.”