BUDAPEST, Hungary (Dispatches) — The United States should not "play with fire” regarding Taiwan after Washington announced its intention to sell $2.2 billion in weapons to the island state, China’s foreign minister said Friday.
Wang Yi also said during a visit to Hungary that his country is concerned about Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s stops in the U.S. before and after state visits to the Caribbean.
Taiwan doesn’t have diplomatic ties with the U.S., though Washington provides Taiwan, which split from China in a 1949 civil war, with military and other support. 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.
"If the U.S. side wants to create new troubles in U.S.-China relations, ultimately their actions will backfire,” Wang said. "We urge the United States to fully recognize the gravity of the Taiwan question” and "honor its promise of adhering to the one-China principle.”
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department announced the proposed arms sale to Taiwan, including 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
China on Friday said it would impose sanctions on U.S. companies involved in the potential arms sale to Taiwan.
"The U.S. arms sale to Taiwan has severely violated the basic norms of international law and international relations," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in an online statement.
"In order to safeguard national interests, China will impose sanctions on U.S. enterprises participating in this sale of weapons to Taiwan," he said.
China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
China on Tuesday had also demanded that the U.S. "immediately cancel" the $2.2 billion potential arms sale.
The U.S. later shrugged off China's complaints, claiming that the equipment would contribute to "peace and stability" in Asia.
With the U.S. currently engaged in a trade war with China, relations between Taipei and Washington have warmed considerably.
Unlike the last three American presidents, who were wary of angering Beijing, Donald Trump has ramped up relations with Taiwan.
And although Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, it has remained Taiwan's most powerful unofficial ally and biggest arms supplier.
China has poached five of Taipei's dwindling number of allies since Tsai became president in 2016.