China again warns against arms sales to Taiwan

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BEIJING (AP) — China again expressed its opposition to arms sales to Taiwan on Wednesday — the latest in a series of warnings over recent U.S. government contracts with Raytheon Company and Lockheed Martin Corp. for Taiwan-bound weapons.

“The stand we take in opposing any country selling arms to Taiwan has been consistent and clear,” the spokesman for the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, Yang Yi, told a news conference.

Officials from the defense and foreign ministries have already publicly opposed the U.S. contracts, warning they could hurt China-U.S. relations.

Communist-ruled China split with Taiwan amid civil war in 1949 and continues to regard the self-governing democracy as part of its territory.

China sees arms sales to Taiwan as interference in Beijing’s internal affairs and has frequent diplomatic spats with the United States, which pledged to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself in 1979.

In recent weeks, the United States awarded a $969 million contract to Lockheed Martin for the provision of 263 PAC-3 air defense missiles to Taiwan and a $1.1 billion contract to Raytheon Co. for production of the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System for Taiwan.

Arms sales to Taiwan are driven by threats from China to use force to bring the island under its control, backed up by an estimated 1,300 Chinese ballistic missiles positioned along the Taiwan Strait.

China responded to the last U.S. arms offer by rejecting Hong Kong port calls by the USS Kitty Hawk and other American ships in November 2007.