US-Taiwan missile deal irks Beijing

08:19, January 08, 2010      

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Chinese President Hu Jintao shakes hands with visiting US President Barack Obama after they meet the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 17, 2009.

China made stern representations to the US Thursday after the Obama administration approved a sale of upgraded Patriot air-defense missile equipment to Taiwan. The decision was denounced by Chinese military scholars as a representation of US-style pragmatism and its long-term containment policy toward China.

The US defense department announced the contract late on Wednesday, allowing Lockheed Martin Corp to sell an unspecified number of Patriots, said the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington's de facto embassy in the absence of formal ties, Reuters reported Thursday.

Wendell Minnick, Asia bureau chief of Defense News, told Reuters that the sale rounds out a $6.5 billion arms package approved in late 2008, which included 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles worth up to $3.1 billion.

"This is the last piece that Taiwan has been waiting on," Minnick said.
Late last month, Raytheon, the world's largest missile maker, won contracts totaling $1.1 billion to produce the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System for Taiwan, including ground-system hardware and spare parts.

According to a Wednesday press release by the US Department of Defense on its website, the contract with Lockheed, awarded December 30, included "basic missile tooling upgrades, command and launch control tooling, spares and ground support equipment." The completion date of the work is estimated to be October 31, 2012.

In a regular press conference in Beijing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said China has urged the US to cancel any planned arms sales to Taiwan to avoid damaging its ties with Beijing.

The PAC-3 missile is the world's "most advanced, capable and powerful theater air defense missile," which defeats tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and fixed and rotary winged aircraft, and significantly increases the Patriot system's firepower, Lockheed said on its website.

The hardware could shoot down Chinese short-range and mid-range missiles, US defense analysts were quoted by Reuters as saying.

Yang Chengjun, a senior military strategist, told the Global Times that the arms sale would only pile up hostility but can't alter the contrast of military strength across the Taiwan Straits.

The latest contract didn't include design work on diesel-electric submarines, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and the "Po Sheng" (Broad Victory) command and control program, which White House officials said last month were in discussion.

Xu Guangyu, a member of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, noticed the "compromise" and argued Beijing's pressure on the Obama administration worked.

Source:Global Times

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