A Taiwanese naval Lafayette-class frigate (L) and a coast guard frigate setting sail from the island's southern port of Kaohsiung. Taiwan's navy said last month it would upgrade the 25-year-old missile interference system of its French-built frigates. Photo: AFP

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China called on France on Tuesday to cancel a weapons contract with Taiwan, warning that the deal with the self-ruled island could harm diplomatic relations between Paris and Beijing.

Taiwan’s navy said last month it would upgrade the 25-year-old missile interference system of French-built Lafayette frigates, whose sale three decades ago had raised diplomatic tensions.

Taiwanese media said the deal was worth over Tw$800 million ($26.8 million) to buy the Dagaie MK2 decoy launcher from a unit of French group DCI.

A source close to the matter told AFP that the Taiwanese Defense Ministry has a contract to modernise its six French-made frigates.

“China has expressed deep concern to France,” the Foreign Ministry in Beijing told AFP.

“We oppose all weapons sales or military and security exchanges with the Taiwan region,” it said.

“We urge France to cancel this planned weapons sale to Taiwan in order to avoid harming Sino-French relations.”

France sold the six frigates to Taiwan for $2.8 billion in 1991, causing a freeze in diplomatic relations between Paris and Beijing.

Beijing still claims the self-governing island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides have been ruled separately for more than seven decades.

– AFP

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