China's defense ministry issued a warning to Taiwan following reports of a plan to purchase U.S. fighter aircraft. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
April 28 (UPI) -- Taiwan's decision to pursue its first arms deal with the United States since President Donald Trump assumed office has generated a stern warning from Beijing.
Chinese defense ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said Thursday at a press briefing, "China is adamantly opposed to selling weapons to Taiwan and there is no space for progress if unification by force is rejected," South Korea news service News 1 reported.
Taiwan had earlier signaled an interest in purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets, Bloomberg reported.
"We hope we can get F-35s," Wang told Bloomberg. "We have been waiting for updated F-16s for too long. Their time has gone. If we buy them now, in 10 years time they'll be of no use."
Since Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping's first summit in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump has pledged to recognize Beijing's "One China" policy.
The Chinese government does not acknowledge the sovereignty of the government in Taipei.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, however, has remained optimistic about the prospects of procuring U.S. arms, despite continued Chinese opposition.
According to Su Hao, an international relations professor at China Foreign Affairs University, any F-35 sale would be a "very problematic" move for military relations between Taiwan and the United States.
No U.S. president has agreed to sell advanced fighter aircraft to Taiwan since 1992.
The United States sold eight submarines to Taiwan in 2001, but since then has not conducted large-volume sales of the latest weapons systems.