China urges France to abandon Taiwan arms deal

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China on Tuesday called on France to cancel an arms deal with Taiwan, warning that the deal with the autonomous island could damage diplomatic ties between Paris and Beijing.

The Taiwanese navy said last month that it would modernize the 25-year-old missile interference system of the French-built Lafayette frigates, the sale of which three decades ago had raised diplomatic tensions.

Taiwanese media has reported that the deal is worth more than $ 800 million ($ 26.8 million) to buy the Dagaie MK2 decoy launcher from a unit of the French group DCI.

A source familiar with the matter told AFP that the Taiwanese Defense Ministry had a contract to modernize its six French-made frigates.

“China has expressed its deep concern to France,” the Foreign Ministry in Beijing told AFP.

“We oppose all arms sales or military and security exchanges with the Taiwan region,” he said.

“We urge France to cancel this plan to sell weapons to Taiwan in order to avoid damaging Sino-French relations.”

France sold the six frigates to Taiwan for $ 2.8 billion in 1991, causing diplomatic ties between Paris and Beijing to freeze.

Beijing still claims the autonomous island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even if the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

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