China threatens sanctions against USA companies selling weapons to Taiwan

Cheryl Sanders
July 13, 2019

People engage in scuffles outside Grand Hyatt hotel, where Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen is supposed to stay during her visit to New York City, U.S., on July 11, 2019.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, despite Chinese opposition, was permitted to make a stopover in NY on Thursday.

Since she became president in 2016, Tsai has made several trips to the USA, and each time, Beijing urged Washington to stop her from entering the country, a move Beijing believes helps legitimize the government in Taiwan, a territory perceived by the mainland Chinese government as a breakaway province.

In a speech at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York, Tsai addressed the representatives to the UN from the 17 countries that recognize Taiwan as a country, saying that she hoped they would continue to support the nation's efforts to gain access to the UN.

Tsai's two-day stop in NY was part of what her office called the "Journey of Freedom, Democracy and Sustainability" tour, and she spoke firmly of the importance of democracy.

While its relations with Taiwan are technically unofficial, the USA government is required by law to assist Taiwan in its defense and is its main supplier of arms.

The United States recognises Beijing as the government of China, but provides military and other support to Taiwan.

Her entourage, protected by federal agents and NY police officers, arrived at the midtown Grand Hyatt to a raucous welcome by hundreds of pro-Taiwan demonstrators.

"The US arms sale to Taiwan has severely violated the basic norms of worldwide law and global relations", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement on Friday.

Tsai arrived in the United States on Thursday amid the objections of China and fraying relations between Beijing and the Trump administration.

Taiwan has been trying to shore up its diplomatic alliances amid pressure from China.

Before departing, Tsai said on Thursday that she wants to share the values of democracy and perseverance with Taiwan's friends.

"Our democracy has not come easily and now is facing the threat and technological penetration of foreign forces", she said, in a veiled reference to China.

Aside from the US, Ms Tsai will be visiting St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and Haiti.

In New York, Tsai will meet with members of the Taiwanese community. It did not respond when asked if Tsai would have contact with any other US officials.

Tsai, who is up for re-election in January, has repeatedly called for worldwide support to defend Taiwan's democracy in the face of Chinese threats.

Last week the State Department approved US$2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including battle tanks and anti-aircraft missiles, the first big-ticket military deal for the island in years.

Douglas Paal, who served as USA representative to Taiwan from 2002 to 2006, said Tsai's extended stopovers showed US approval for the "caution and restraint" she had shown in her dealings with Beijing. "This is also ... a message to China". China has been especially concerned that Taiwan may purchase new fighter jets from the US, but no such weapons are included in this sale.

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