"Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing was authorized to lodge solemn representations and raised strong protest against the government of the United States on its announcement that it will sell arms to Taiwan," Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier responses from Beijing had been mild following months of diplomatic maneuvering aimed at preventing the sale of advanced weapons to Taiwan.
The Bush administration agreed to sell four Kidd Class destroyers, six P-3 anti-submarine aircraft and eight diesel submarines. But Washington deferred a decision on Taiwan's request to buy the more advanced Arleigh-Burke class destroyers that are equipped with the Aegis radar system, the item that China had campaigned most vehemently against.
Following the announcement Monday by U.S. officials of the arms package, China had merely said it was "concerned" about the sale and most analysts expect a diplomatic war of words to follow.
China-U.S. relations were already strained following the April 1 collision of a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane with a Chinese fighter jet, which resulted in the aircraft crash landing on China's Hainan island and an 11-day detention of the 24 American crewmembers. Negotiations for the return of the plane and China's demand for an end to such flights are expected to reconvene sometime next week.
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