China threatens to ban USA firms selling arms to Taiwan

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China said Friday that the USA should not allow an ongoing visit by Taiwan's president to NY and that it would impose sanctions on American companies that sell arms to the self-governing island as part of an expected $2.2 billion deal.

On Monday, the US State Department announced the $2.2bn potential arms sale to Taiwan, which includes 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

"We urge the U.S.to abide by the "One China" principle and. not allow Tsai Ing-wen's stopover, cease official exchanges with Taiwan and refrain from providing any platform for separatist Taiwan independence forces", foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday in Beiijng.

China regards Taiwan as its own territory although it has its own currency, military and relationships with some foreign countries.

Taiwan's 23 million people have the right to take part in global affairs without "political interference", she said.

Prior to her remarks at Colombia University, Tsai gave a speech at the U.S. -Taiwan Business Summit in NY to talk about trade relations between the two countries, which was also attended by Nasdaq Chairman of the Board Michael Splinter and U.S. -Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers. Taiwan is not a United Nations member and has no representatives, but 17 countries in the world body continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the deal was "a serious violation of global law and the basic norms governing worldwide relations", as well as violating the ruling Chinese Communist Party's "one China" principle under which it claims Taiwan as part of China.

The People's Daily editorial suggested that the Taiwan weapons deal was just one element of American efforts to "contain China".

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Though diplomatic relations are strained over a number of issues, China's sanctions threat is indicative of a "broad downward trend", and not necessarily a significant "downturn in bilateral relations", said Roy Kamphausen, senior vice president for research at the US-based National Bureau of Asian Research.

Yet Washington remains its most powerful unofficial ally and biggest arms supplier.

Meanwhile, foreign minister Wang Yi warned that the US should "not play with fire" on the question of Taiwan, and that no foreign force could or should intervene to stop the "unification" of China and Taiwan.

Beijing had earlier requested the USA not to go ahead with the sales. The island nations are among the few countries that recognize Taiwan instead of China.

"Some people are wondering whether she will meet with Trump's family, as Trump Tower is in NY, even though she won't meet with the president himself". "We will have to pay close attention". "The U.S. government believes Tsai is behaving responsibly in respecting the framework of U.S. -China-Taiwan relations".

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949.

The island began a transition to democracy following the death of Chiang Kai-shek's son, President Chiang Ching-kuo, in January 1988, starting with direct elections to the legislature in the early 1990s and culminating in the first direct election of a president, Lee Teng-hui, in 1996. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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