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US risks China's wrath by sanctioning arms sale to Taiwan

Chinese premier Xi Jinping (left) and US President Donald Trump. Photograph: (Twitter)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 29, 2017, 11.06 PM (IST)

The Donald Trump administration has sanctioned sale of weapons worth $1.3 billion to Taiwan, a move that may provoke China.

Green-lighting sale of arms to Taiwan may be viewed by Beijing as a flagrant attempt on the part of the US to contravene its 'One China' policy -- which states that Taiwan is a part of China.

But a US government official was keen to downplay the sale of military hardware and said the White House continued to honour Beijing's 'One China' policy, which is deemed to be a crucial tenet to sustain diplomatic relations by the Asian powerhouse.

The official further said the transaction was part of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, under which the US can sell weapons to the country to "maintain a sufficient self-defense capability".

The defence sales will help Taiwan upgrade its systems from analog to digital, the US government official said.

The US will be providing Taiwan with missiles, radar, torpedoes and parts of SM-2 missiles, Guardian reported.

The last US arms sale to Taiwan was in December 2015.

Announcement of the sale comes at a sensitive moment for the US and China, as President Trump is working to establish a partnership over trade differences and efforts to curb North Korea's nuclear program.

Just after winning election, Trump infuriated Beijing by accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, but once in office the president unequivocally endorsed the "One China" policy during a visit by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

While Washington cut off formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, it has never made a clear statement about Taiwan's sovereignty, and the island enjoys many of the trappings of diplomatic relations with the US.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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