Editorial: Weapons deals hurt all

Updated: 2011-09-23 07:44

(China Daily)

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China is justified in lodging a serious diplomatic representation and venting its anger over the decision the United States made on Wednesday to sell more arms, worth $5.852 billion to Taiwan, including upgrading F-16A/B fighter jets.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned the US ambassador to China, Gary Locke, and warned the US move "will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas".

The magnitude of China's official and social response indicates the US' action is intolerable. Given that a similar move by the US prompted Beijing to call off bilateral military exchanges with Washington in January last year, it should not come as a surprise that Beijing chooses to take countermeasures.

Chinese media and the public have also condemned the arms deal. None of these developments bodes well for maintaining good Sino-US relations.

Given that a great majority of the world, Washington included, recognizes Taiwan as part of China, the US arms sales to Taiwan, which started three decades ago and now total more than $47 billion in value, are a blatant interference in China's internal affairs.

The move not only contradicts Washington's pledge to seek a stable, strong and enduring relationship with Beijing, but also breaks its promise to phase out the arms sales.

The widely denounced US policy is like a chronic disease haunting Sino-US relations. Whenever an outbreak occurs, the health of the two countries' ties suffers.

It is high time the US solved the issue once and for all. After all, it cannot expect to reap the dividends of robust Sino-US trade relations without making due contributions to bilateral cooperation.

The Taiwan Relations Act, an outdated domestic US law, is constantly used to justify selling arms to Taiwan. However, in an Aug 17, 1982, communiqu signed with Beijing, Washington pledged not to continue with its policy of selling arms to the island over the long term. Thus, using the Taiwan Relations Act as a pretext for the weapons deals is illogical and self-deceptive.

Moreover, insisting on putting a domestic law above an international treaty is legally wrong however strong the US may be, and should be stopped unless the US wishes to continue losing its moral standing in the world.

Much has changed in Sino-US economic and political relations over the past 30 years. The US should understand that for selling arms to Taiwan, it will pay a dear price.

For its own interest, Washington should review and revoke the law governing its relations with Taiwan. Each time it sells arms to Taiwan, it damages the world's most important set of relations and its own credibility, and threatens world peace.

(China Daily 09/23/2011 page8)