BEIJING (Reuters) - La Chine a averti mercredi la France de ne pas vendre d'armes à Taiwan, un pays autonome voisin qui envisage d'acheter des armes dans le cadre d'une mise à niveau d'une flotte de navires de guerre de fabrication française achetée il y a 30 ans.
China says that Taiwan is part of a “one China” and that this principle must be accepted by any country with which it has diplomatic relations. Arms sales to Taiwan are still very sensitive and regularly provoke a strong reaction from Beijing.
Taiwan is mainly equipped with American-made weapons, but in 1991, France sold six Lafayette frigates to Taiwan, to the wrath of China. France also sold 60 Mirage fighter jets to Taiwan in 1992.
Taiwan said last month it was looking to buy equipment from France to improve the ship’s missile interference system.
Speaking in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that China was resolutely opposed to any arms sales to Taiwan.
“We have already expressed our grave concern to France,” he said in a daily press briefing.
“We once again urge the French side to respect the principle of a single China and to withdraw the arms sale plan to Taiwan to avoid damaging Sino-French relations.”
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that the navy has declared that it follows procurement regulations for the purchase of weapons to meet its “combat needs”. He declined to comment.
Taiwan said it needs to modernize its military to meet the growing threat from China, which has intensified its military exercises in recent months near the democratic island.
China describes Taiwan as its most sensitive and important territorial issue, and has never given up on the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.
(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)