BEIJING, China - The United States has stirred up a hornets' nest in China by approving the sale of four warships to Taiwan that Beijing claims as one of its provinces.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang Friday criticized the US for its planned sale of four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan. The spokesman said that the "Taiwan issue" was among the core to China interests.
Qin said that Beijing had lodged a firm protest with Washington over President Barack Obama's signing into law a legislation authorizing the sale.
"China firmly opposes the arms sale to Taiwan by the US. This position is resolute, clear and consistent," Qin told reporters.
He said that the proposed sale was tantamount to interfering with China's internal affairs that hurts its sovereignty.
"It is a crude interference in China's internal affairs, damages China's sovereignty and security interests and goes against the trend of peaceful development in cross-strait relations," the spokesman said.
"China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this and has lodged solemn representations with the United States both in Beijing and Washington. We reserve the right to take further action."
The Taiwan government plans to buy two of the warships from the US. It has set aside $176 million to buy two Oliver Hazard Perry as part of a potential four ship deal, Defense Minister David Lo said last week.
"We have the budget approved to purchase two of the frigates. We hope the US will not be influenced by threats from China," said Lo.
The ships would join eight Taiwanese built Perrys that first entered service in 1993 and would replace four U.S. built Kidd-class guided missile destroyer that joined the Taiwanese fleet in the early 2000s.
A $6 billion U.S. arms sale to Taiwan in 2010 broke off military-to-military relations between the U.S. and China.
The defense ministry expressed thanks on behalf of Taiwan to the United States for approving the sale. It said that Obama's move was in keeping with the US commitment in the Taiwan Relations Act to support Taiwan's security.
China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.