China again denounces U.S. arms sale to Taiwan

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Saturday again denounced U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, saying they were an intrusion in Chinese internal affairs that risked undermining its relations with the United States.

The latest condemnation by the Chinese Foreign Ministry was directed at a $1.1 billion order received by Raytheon Co for ground-system hardware to support Taiwan’s Patriot air defense capability.

China on Thursday denounced the U.S. decision to clear the sale of Patriot missiles by Lockheed Martin to Taiwan, which Beijing sees as a renegade province.

The Chinese Defense Ministry also expressed its anger, saying late on Friday on its website ( that it reserved “the right to take further actions”. This warning followed comments earlier this week by a Chinese military official who proposed sanctioning U.S. firms that sell arms to Taiwan.

The Patriot hardware, some of the best in its class, could shoot down Chinese short-range and mid-range missiles, defense analysts say. The sale rounds out a $6.5 billion arms package approved under then U.S. President George W. Bush in late 2008.

China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.

The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognizing “one China”. But it remains Taiwan’s biggest ally and is obligated by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to help in the island’s defense.

Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Nick Macfie