China summons US envoy over warship sales to Taiwan   

BEIJING: China has summoned the US envoy to protest Washington’s sale of warships to Taiwan, as part of a massive $1.8 billion arms package, Beijing said on Thursday.

Taipei will get an array of missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and two frigates in the latest deal, which comes as the United States looks to shore up its Asian friends and allies in the face of growing Chinese assertiveness.

“China staunchly opposes America’s sale of arms to Taiwan,” a statement from the country’s foreign affairs ministry said, as US charge d’affaires Kaye Lee was called in for a dressing down.

It said Beijing would impose sanctions on any companies involved in the sale, and warned Washington to cancel the deal to “avoid causing further damage to Sino-US relations”.

Although it has been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, China considers Taiwan a renegade province awaiting reunification.

It regularly lashes out at Washington and other powers for their dealings with Taipei, which it labels “interference” in Chinese domestic affairs.

The US weapons sale the first to Taiwan in four years — comes at an increasingly febrile time in East Asia, where China’s aggressive position on territorial disputes with its neighbours has raised anxiety levels in the US and among allies from Japan to the Philippines.


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