China learned the hard way, that you never, ever tell the French what to do — you will only end up with egg on your face.
On Wednesday, French officials shrugged off China’s warning over a weapons sale to Taiwan, telling the communist country to mind its own business.
In fact, China was told to keep its focus on fighting the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, according to a report in Taiwan News.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) demanded that France cancel an arms deal with Taiwan saying that it had “expressed deep concern to France,” reported Agence France Presse.
Zhao stated that China opposes “all weapons sales or military and security exchanges with the Taiwan region.”
The arms deal in question is Taiwan’s purchase of Dagaie MK2 decoy launcher upgrade kits worth NT$800 million (US$26.8 million).
The upgrade kits are designed to modernize missile countermeasure systems on all six of the Taiwan Navy’s Kang Ding-class (Lafayette-class) frigates, which were purchased from France in 1991, the report said.
The French foreign ministry responded to China’s complaint by first reiterating its adherence to the “one China policy.”
The ministry explained that it was fulfilling contractual obligations and that it has not changed its position on the “one China policy” since 1994, the report said.
France then admonished Beijing to keep its eye on the ball with regard to the coronavirus pandemic: “Facing the Covid-19 crisis, all our attention and efforts should be focused on battling the pandemic,” reported France 24.
The spat puts France in an awkward position, as it has recently ordered millions of face masks from China due to a critical shortage of medical supplies, the report said. Based on its recent behavior, Beijing could respond by threatening to renege on the mask deal.
On April 28, China threatened to halt the shipment of medical supplies and a boycott of Dutch products when The Netherlands Trade and Investment Office changed its name to “Netherlands Office Taipei.”
On Tuesday, a petulant China began blocking beef imports from four Australia abattoirs after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the coronavirus pandemic.