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China voices concerns over reported US plan to sell Taiwan $2bn worth of arms

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US-made CM-11 tanks (in background) are fired in front of two 8-inch self-propelled artillery guns during the 35th "Han Kuang" (Han Glory) military drill in southern Taiwan's Pingtung county on May 30, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

China has voiced serious concerns about a reported plan by the United States to sell Taiwan more than $2 billion worth of tanks and weapons amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The proposed sale — which includes 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2 Abrams tanks worth around $2 billion as well as anti-tank munitions — has been sent to US Congress, four sources told Reuters on Thursday on the condition of anonymity.

For the past several years, Taiwan has been expressing interest in updating its existing inventory of US-manufactured tanks, including the M60 Patton model.

Reacting to the news, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing on Thursday that Beijing wants the United States to stop arms sales to Taiwan to avoid harming bilateral relations.

China claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island, and almost all world countries, including the US itself, recognize that sovereignty under a policy known as “One China.”

Washington — which has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei by law — has extensive military ties with Taiwan, selling advanced military hardware to the island.

 Two 8-inch self-propelled artillery guns are fired during the 35th "Han Kuang" (Han Glory) military drill in southern Taiwan's Pingtung county on May 30, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The US, under President Donald Trump, has been further enhancing relations with Taiwan. Since Trump took office in January 2017, Washington has opened a new de facto embassy in Taipei and passed a law to encourage senior US officials to travel to Taiwan to meet their counterparts and vice versa.

President Xi Jinxing warned in January that the use of force would remain an option for Beijing to bring Taiwan back under Chinese control.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of sticking points in the US-China relationship, which also include a trade war initiated by the US.

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