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  Words in the News

China has condemned plans by the United States to sell sophisticated new weapons systems to Taiwan. From Beijing, Rupert Wingfield Hayes reports.

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25th April 2001

Weapons for Taiwan

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Beijing is clearly extremely unhappy at the arms package Washington is reported to be offering Taiwan. In its first response China's foreign ministry called the arms sales a grave violation of China's sovereignty and a rude interference in China's internal affairs.

The arms package being offered to Taiwan will reportedly include four powerful navy destroyers, eight diesel submarines and sophisticated submarine hunting aircraft. These are the most advanced weapons to be sold to Taiwan by any country in at least a decade. But while Beijing's initial response is robust it is far from being hysterical.

    Audio Listen to the words

extremely – very

arms - weapons

grave violation –
a very serious break of a promise or agreement

sovereignty – the power that a country has to govern itself or to govern other countries

interference –
becoming involved in something when it does not concern you

destroyers –
a kind of warship

initial response – first reaction or reply

robust –

hysterical –
in a state of uncontrolled anger or panic

NEWS 2    Audio Listen to the second part of the report

China may be waiting for Washington to make a formal announcement of the deal before making a full response. But the measured tone may also reflect relief here that the arms package does not include the most sophisticated weapons Taiwan had been asking for, in particular the Aegis naval air defence system.

Beijing has made it clear the sale of the Aegis system to Taiwan would have been tantamount to Washington declaring a new military alliance with an island that China claims is an integral part of its own territory.

    Audio Listen to the words

measured tone – a careful and deliberate way of speaking or dealing with something

tantamount to –
almost exactly the same as

alliance - union

integral – important and essential


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