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Senior Chinese military officials strongly condemned the U.S. Thursday for selling weapons to Taiwan saying the move deeply undermines China-U.S. relations.Senior Colonel Geng Yangshen said: “”The Chinese military expresses its utmost indignation and strong condemnation of this action that gravely interferes in China’s domestic affairs and damages China’s sovereignty and national security interests.”
Despite all the posturing, Beijing’s response will likely be based on public opinion, which it will watch very closely in the coming days.
The Chinese public is strongly opposed to the arms deals and last year’s public opposition in China was likely a factor in denying Taiwan the new F-16s they wanted.
The Obama administration was forced to walk a fine line in deciding what type of arms to sell Taiwain.
The island nation lobbied heavily for 66 F-16C/D fighter jets with advanced electronics, avionics, and fire systems.
That sale was denied, for now, instead the U.S. has agreed to $5.85 billion in upgrades to Taiwan’s older F-16A/B models. Included in this package is the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, pilots will need to detect China’s fifth-generation J-20 stealth-fighter
Congressional legislation passed in 1979 obligates the U.S. to provide Taiwan weapons to defend itself, but the White House is also trying to deepen ties with China as it emerges as a superpower.
Official Chinese backlash is inevitable, but it remains to be seen if the official party line will be as extreme as it was during the 2010 sale of Black Hawk helicopters to Taiwan, when China cut military ties with the U.S. entirely.
It is a situation that is not going away any time soon as it remains likely the F-16C/Ds will be sold to Taiwan at a later date.
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