04:37 GMT26 February 2021
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    Earlier, US Congressmen from both sides of the aisle praised a proposed deal to sell a fleet of F-16 fighter jets worth $8 billion, justifying the move as a way to give the island a means to "deter" Beijing.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has cautioned the US against selling F-16 fighters to Taiwan, noting that Beijing would respond to the move and that Washington would "have to bear all the consequences".

    "China urges the US to fully recognise the highly sensitive and harmful nature of the relevant issue, abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués, refrain from selling F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan and stop arms sales to and military contact with Taiwan", she stated.

    Beijing's response comes in the wake of the US informally approving the sale of 66 F-16 fighters, valued at some $8 billion, something which was reported by American media outlets on 16 August.

    The move was praised by US lawmakers, with head of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jim Inhofe and his colleague Senator John Cornyn claiming that the move would allow Taiwan to "deter aggression" in light of Beijing's activities in the South China Sea. House Democrat Eliot Engel and Republican Michael McCaul claimed in a joint statement that the sale "sends a strong message" about US policy in the region.

    Two US-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi air force base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016
    © AFP 2021 / SAM YEH
    Two US-made F-16 fighters take off from the Chiayi air force base in southern Taiwan during a demonstration on January 26, 2016

    Previously, the US State Department approved $2.2 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, including 100 M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles, despite Beijing's protests. The State Department has claimed that the deal is meant to "promote peace" in the region.

    Beijing views Taiwan as one of its provinces, although the island has proclaimed independence, something which has been recognised by some countries, and has governed itself since 1949.  China has repeatedly slammed the US for attempting to provide military assistance to the island.


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