China warns U.S. after drone sales to Taiwan

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Nov. 4 (UPI) — China is not ruling out a stern response to the latest U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan: MQ-9 Reaper drones worth $600 million recently approved by the U.S. State Department.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin claimed Wednesday at a regular press briefing all U.S. arms sales break Chinese law.

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The arms sales “severely violate the one-China principle and the three U.S.-China joint communiqués,” Wang said.

The U.S. policy also “seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests, and sends out wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” Wang said. “China firmly opposes such acts.”

Wang also warned Beijing will take “legitimate and necessary reactions to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security interests.”

Under the U.S.-China Joint Communiqués, however, U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, including arms, has historically been permitted. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have supplied weapons to the island under the Taiwan Relations Act.

Chinese warplanes have also stepped up breaches of the Taiwan Strait median line in 2020. Chinese state media has said Beijing’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force sent military aircraft to the Taiwan Strait for 25 days in October.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration confirmed plans to sell four armed MQ-9 drones to Taiwan. The sale supports Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defense capability,” the U.S. State Department said.

The $600 million sale includes four drones, ground stations and surveillance and communications equipment, according to Al Jazeera.

The drone sale is the latest of a series of deals with Taiwan. The United States has in total sold military equipment worth $4.2 billion, including Harpoon anti-ship missiles and mobile light rocket launchers. Congress has a month to object to the drone sale, which is unlikely, according to reports.

China has stepped up its aerospace missions amid tensions with the United States.

U.S. consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology said in its quarterly report China has sent 29 satellites into space in the first nine months of 2020. That number is greater than U.S. and Russian satellite launches this year, according to the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.