May 13, 2020 18:19 UTC
  • China warns France not to harm bilateral ties by selling weapons to Taiwan

China has warned France not to sell weapons to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, saying such a move would harm bilateral ties.

According to reports, China claims full sovereignty over the island and almost all world countries adhere to the “One China” policy and recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.

Taiwan is mostly equipped with American-made weapons, but it purchased six Lafayette frigates from France in 1991, sparking China's anger. In 1992, France also sold Taiwan 60 Mirage fighter jets.

Last month, Taiwan said it was planning to purchase equipment from France to upgrade the ships' missile interference system.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Wednesday expressed his country’s strong opposition to any arms sales to the island.

"We have already expressed our serious concern to France," he said at a daily news briefing in Beijing.

He added that China urges France to “abide by the One China principle and withdraw the arms sale plan to Taiwan to avoid harming Sino-French relations."

In response, Taiwan's Defense Ministry quoted the navy as saying that it is following related procurement regulations for the arms purchase to meet its "combat needs", and declined to comment further.

Commenting on China’s warning, France reiterated its adherence to the "One China" policy as agreed with Beijing in 1994.

"Within this context France respects the contractual commitments it made with Taiwan and has not changed its position since 1994," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Facing the COVID-19 crisis, all our attention and efforts should be focused on battling the pandemic," it added.