Controversy between Beijing and Paris over a weapons agreement in Taiwan

China called on France to “cancel” an arms deal with Taiwan, stressing that such a deal with this island, considered by Beijing as one of its provinces, could “damage Sino-French relations”. France is sweeping the critics.

The topic is sensitive and the controversy over thirty years old. On Tuesday, May 12, Pékina invited Paris to “cancel” an armament contract with the Taïwandans as part of the modernization of ships acquired in 1991 from France. For Beijing, Taiwan is part of a “single China” and this principle must be accepted by all countries with which it maintains diplomatic relations.

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that China resolutely opposed all arms sales to Taiwan. “We have already expressed our grave concern for France,” he said during a press conference.

“We again urge the French side to respect the principle of China and to abandon this plan to sell weapons to Taiwan so as not to damage Franco-Chinese relations.”

Paris is sweeping the critics

Critics brushed aside by France, inviting China to “focus” rather on the collective fight against the decoronavirus pandemic. “Before the Covid-19 crisis, all our attention and all our efforts must be focused on the fight against the pandemic,” the French Foreign Ministry said in the wake of Beijing’s warning.

“Under the Franco-Chinese Declaration of 1994, France is implementing a single policy of China and continues to demand dialogue between the two beaches,” stresses Quai d’Orsay.

Taiwan, which became the refuge for Kuomintang nationalists after the Communists came to power in 1949 in China, is a very sensitive topic for Beijing, which considers the island as one of its provinces.

“In this context, France strictly respects the contractual commitments it has made with Taiwan and has not changed its position since 1994,” the French Foreign Minister said.

Taiwan wants to modernize its frigates

In 1991, France signed $ 2.8 billion in the sale of six frigates to Taiwan, causing a freeze on Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations. And the announcement by the Taiwanese fleet, which indicated on April 7, 2020 that it wanted to modernize these frigates, has redoubled these tensions.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed to the AFP that the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has signed a contract to modernize the Dagaie lock failure system that equips the six frigates. A decoy launcher is a system used to avoid being hit by an enemy missile.

According to Taiwanese media, the transaction costs are more than 800 million Taiwanese dollars (24.6 million euros).

With AFP and Reuters