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Peking is fuming about the Reagan administration's plans to sell Taiwan $530 million worth of arms. The US had pledged to reduce sales from the 1979 total of $600 million, and now estimates that total sales to Taiwan this year will be about $800 million. Not surprisingly, the Chinese do not accept the administration's argument that US arms sales are actually on the decline if inflation is taken into account. It does seem strange that this was not nailed down in the Sino-American discussions a year ago. Did the US simply not mention an inflation factor?

It seems unwise, in any case, to add to the strains in Sino-US relations at a time when Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping is trying to maintain a delicate internal political balance as he pushes through reforms. This could make it more difficult for him to fend off his right-wing detractors. Moreover, it is far from clear that Taiwan needs so much highly sophisticated weaponry - which is well beyond anything the mainland Chinese have.

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