February 5, 2010 / 4:27 PM / in 10 years

China "indignant" on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan

MUNICH (Reuters) - China is indignant about new U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and its opposition to them is “very reasonable,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Friday.

China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi waves before a meeting with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

China has said it will impose unspecified sanctions on U.S. firms selling weapons to Taiwan in retaliation for the U.S. announcement that it planned to sell $6.4 billion of arms to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.

“The Chinese government and people feel indignant about this,” Yang told a security conference in Germany. “I do hope the U.S. will change its behavior ... and will stop arms sales to Taiwan.”

“What China has done is very reasonable and what any dignified people would do,” he added.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communist forces won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT fled to the island.

China has threatened to attack if Taiwan tries to formalize its de facto independence.

“We approached the U.S. side very seriously on many occasions. Yet the U.S. went ahead and forced the Chinese government and people to react. We think it is our sovereign right to do what is necessary,” Yang said.

“What is the central question here? Whether a country feels weak or strong, all countries should be equal and you have to put yourself in the shoes of others before you make any decision. Would you like this to be done to yourself? Of course not.”

Beijing has said the sales could affect the task of peaceful reunification between China and Taiwan.

The minister said Taiwan “is actually having more progress, together with us, in peacefully developing cross straits relations, and the U.S. is supporting this. So we urge the USA to do things which would contribute to this developing trend.”

Sino-U.S. relations are already tense due to a series of other spats over the value of China’s currency, trade protectionism and Internet freedoms.

Reporting by William Maclean and David Graham, editing by Tim Pearce

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