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U.S. announces $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan

From Charley Keyes, CNN
The United States is going to sell 60 Black Hawk helicopters, totaling $3.1 billion, to Taiwan.
The United States is going to sell 60 Black Hawk helicopters, totaling $3.1 billion, to Taiwan.
  • Sale includes 60 Black Hawk helicopters, 114 air defense missiles, mine-hunting ships
  • China says it "is strongly dissatisfied" with arms sales to Taiwan by the United States
  • Deals do not include F-16 fighter jets, which China has vehemently opposed
  • State Department says arms sales guarantee security and stability "across Taiwan strait"

Washington (CNN) -- Overriding objections from China, the Obama administration unveiled a $6.4 billion arms deal with Taiwan on Friday -- including about $2.85 billion in missiles.

The sale includes 60 Black Hawk helicopters (totaling $3.1 billion), 114 advanced Patriot air defense missiles; a pair of Osprey mine-hunting ships; and dozens of advanced communications systems.

China has complained to the United States about the sale of Patriot missiles and other weapons to Taiwan, which neither Beijing nor Washington recognize as a sovereign nation. The deals do not include F-16 fighter jets, which China has vehemently opposed.

China's Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei issued a statement in response to Friday's announcement, saying the arms deal was a "rude interference in China's internal affairs, severely endangering China's national security." He added, "China expresses its strong indignation."

The State Department described the latest round of arms sales to Taiwan as a way to guarantee security and stability, despite China's objections.

"This is a clear demonstration of the commitment this administration has to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons it needs and as provided for in the Taiwan Relations Act," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said at his regular Friday briefing. "We think this action is consistent with the U.S. one-China policy ... and contributes to maintaining stability and security across the Taiwan Strait."

He said the State Department had informed the U.S. Congress as well as China and Taiwan about the arms package.

Crowley would not speak directly about the timing of the announcement of the sales, and about the fact that the arms package does not include F-16s.

The arms sales come as the United States is hoping to persuade China to sign on to harsher sanctions against Iran and just after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized China for its policies relating to the Internet.

A senior U.S. official said later that the United States expected Chinese criticism of the arms deal, but does not expect permanent damage.

"We've worked through these issues before. We will do so again," the U.S. official said, seeking anonymity on such an important policy issue. "What is important here is the stability in the region. And we do think our ongoing sales of arms to Taiwan is fully consistent with everyone's long-term interest in stability in the region."

The official said he believed Clinton had discussed the sale in London with her Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of Thursday's international conference on Afghanistan.

"This relationship between the United States and China is broad, it's deep. There are a large number of issues. We don't see eye to eye with them and we have to have and do have the ability to speak honestly," the official said.

The arms deal is the latest chapter in a decades-long uneasy standoff; China claims Taiwan is its own territory and has threatened to invade if Taiwan ever declares independence. The United States has said it will defend Taiwan if China ever attacks.

The government in Taiwan began as the remnant of the government that ruled over mainland China until a Communist insurrection proved victorious in 1949. With the Communist takeover of mainland China, the losing faction fled to the island of Taiwan. Taiwan is formally known as the Republic of China, while Communist China's official name is People's Republic of China.

Many Western nations and the United Nations recognized Taiwan as the legitimate Chinese government until the 1970s.