U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has defended U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, citing what he called "an extraordinary" Chinese deployment of cruise and ballistic missiles opposite the island.
Secretary Gates told U.S. lawmakers Wednesday that the arms sales are in keeping with a treaty commitment that requires the United States to help Taiwan maintain its defenses.
In January, the Obama administration notified Congress of a plan to sell Taiwan up to $6.4 billion worth of arms. Following that, Beijing broke off military-to-military contacts with the United States and later refused a proposed visit by Gates during his trip to Asia earlier this month.
Gates says China's decision to break off military-to-military contacts could undercut regional stability. He also says the arms sales to Taiwan are not a threat because Washington does not support independence for Taiwan.
China views Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. U.S. officials say Taiwan needs updated weapons to improve its defense capabilities.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.