China threatens to sanction United States over $2.8 billion arms deal with Taiwan

Tsai speaking to media in New York

The US State Department has said there had been no change in the US "one China" policy, under which Washington officially recognises Beijing and not Taipei, while assisting Taiwan.

On Monday, the US State Department approved the sale of M1A2T Abrams tanks, Stinger missiles and related military equipment to Taiwan at an estimated value of $2.2 billion. They were requested by Taiwan earlier in 2019 in order to bolster its defences - "in the face of pressure" from China.

Beijing's Foreign Ministry slammed the arms sales as harmful to China's sovereignty and national security.

Wang Yi, during his visit to Hungary, asked the USA to "recognise the gravity of the Taiwan question".

"Taiwan will not succumb to intimidation", the Presidential Office said in a statement released as Tsai's visit began, without specifically mentioning China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen left for the United States yesterday on a trip that has angered Beijing, warning that democracy must be defended and the island faced threats from "overseas forces", in a veiled reference to China.

The Chinese government has never renounced the use of force as an option for achieving reunification.

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Even though Taiwan, which split from China following a civil war in 1949, doesn't have diplomatic ties with the US, Washington provides Taipei with military and other support.

Tsai transited through the U.S. during a trip to the Pacific earlier this year, as well as last year's visit to Paraguay and Belize, both prompting official Chinese protests.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said Friday during a visit to Hungary that his country has "grave concern" about Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's stops in the US ahead and after state visits to the Caribbean. China objects to such support as interference in what it considers its internal affairs and is seeking to bring self-governing Taiwan under its control.

Since she became president in 2016, Tsai has made several trips to the U.S., 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.

"Our democracy has not come easily, and is now facing threats and infiltration from overseas forces", she said, without naming any such force.

Speaking before departure at Taipei's main global airport at Taoyuan, Tsai said she would share the values of freedom and transparency with Taiwan's allies, and was looking forward to finding more worldwide space for Taiwan.

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