US Taiwan big weapons sale, “serious harm” from China.

Taiwan confirmed Thursday it has asked to purchase more than 100 tanks from the U.S., along with air defense and anti-tank missile systems in a major potential arms sale that drew immediate protest from China. A Defense Ministry statement said it has submitted a letter of request for 108 cutting-edge M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 TOW anti-armor missiles, 409 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 250 Stinger man-portable air defense systems.

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The request is proceeding “as normal,” it said. It wasn’t clear when the official request had been issued, after which the U.S. has 120 days to respond.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

“This position is consistent and clear,” he said at the ministry’s daily briefing. “We urge the U.S. to fully understand the high sensitivity and serious harm of the issue of arms sales to Taiwan and abide by the one-China principle.”

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Officials at the Pentagon referred CBS News to the State Department for comment on the Taiwanese arms request. A State Department official told CBS News the U.S. Government did not, “comment on or confirm potential or pending arms sales” as a matter of policy, until Congress has been notified of an agreed sale.

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China considers self-governing Taiwan part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. It says U.S. arms sales to the island constitute both interference in its internal affairs and a betrayal of earlier commitments made by Washington to Beijing.

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