A Chinese military official warned that Beijing will not sit “idly by” if the United States proceeds to sell F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, suggesting China may consider action beyond sanctioning firms associated with the deal.
Speakers at a forum sponsored by China’s official journalists’ association, Major General Chen Rongdi, chief of the Institute of War Studies at the Academy of Military Sciences confirmed that Beijing considers the sale a violation of previous U.S. commitments to China regarding military activity in the region.
“China will not sit idly by,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “Of course, we don’t rule out additional measures.”
China has pledged sanctions against the U.S. over the proposed sale, which was announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Tuesday in an official notification to Congress, where Taiwan receives strong bipartisan support.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to TECRO for the 66 F-16C/D Block 70 aircraft and related equipment and support for an estimated cost of $8 billion,” the statement read. “The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.”
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” it continues. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”
However, Colonel Cao Yanzong, a research fellow at the institute, played down the threat of the F-16V planes, citing China’s “overwhelming air superiority and arsenal of short to medium-range missiles.”
He added that the sale would be of little use “beyond making profits for American arms makers, while further undermining relations between China and the U.S. and China and Taiwan.”
The proposed sale comes as Beijing steps up its military aggression against Taiwan, a self-governed island which separated from the mainland during the 1949 civil war. However, China maintains Taiwan is part of its historic territory and demands that the two countries must eventually be reunified, in what they refer to as ‘One China Policy.’
A semi-annual defense ministry report released by Beijing last month, titled “China’s National Defense in the New Era,” affirmed that China “has the firm resolve and the ability” to take control of Taiwan, making “no promise to renounce the use of force, and reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”
“Aiming at safeguarding national unity, China’s armed forces strengthen military preparedness with emphasis on the sea,” the report read. “By sailing ships and flying aircraft around Taiwan, the armed forces send a stern warning to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”