China Says US Arms Sales to Taiwan Are Turning the Island Into a ‘Powder Keg’


China’s defense ministry said Thursday that the U.S. should stop interfering in both Taiwan and the South China Sea, saying U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are making the situation more dangerous.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party is “turning Taiwan into a weapons depot and a powder keg,” said Senior Col. Wu Qian, the defense ministry’s top spokesperson.

He spoke less than two months ahead of a presidential election in which Taiwan voters will choose between the ruling party, which favors a stronger defense and close ties to the U.S., and opposition parties that advocate improving ties with China as the best way to reduce tensions.

“Taiwan’s security depends on the peaceful development of cross-strait relations instead of a few pieces of U.S.-made weapons,” Wu said at a monthly news conference. The 160-kilometer (100-mile) -wide Taiwan Strait runs between Taiwan and China’s east coast.

China claims the self-governing island as its territory and says it must come under its control. The U.S. government does not support formal independence for Taiwan but is bound by its own laws to provide the island with the means to defend itself. 

“We request that the U.S. side acts in accordance with its words and takes concrete steps to honor its commitment not to support Taiwan independence, stops arming Taiwan and stops undermining China’s core interest,” Wu said.

Some American lawmakers are calling for stepped-up support in response to threatening military drills by China. 

Wu also criticized the U.S. for supporting the Philippines in the latter’s territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has sought U.S. assistance, including a recent joint patrol conducted by their militaries.

“The U.S. has meddled in the South China Sea issue for its self-interests and instigated and supported the Philippines to infringe on (China’s) rights and stir up trouble,” Wu said.

He said that Chinese and U.S. defense officials are in contact to re-establish military-to-military communication at various levels. Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping agreed to do that during a summit meeting about two weeks ago. China had suspended communications for more than a year in a dispute related to the Taiwan issue. 

Wu also said that China is paying close attention to fighting between a group of militias and the Myanmar army near the border with China. The Chinese military held live-fire drills on the Chinese side of the border earlier this week.

“The Chinese military always maintains high alert and is ready to respond to all kinds of unexpected situations,” Wu said.