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Taiwan arms deal sours U.S.-China relations

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Washington's approval of nearly $6.5 billion in arms sales to Taiwan Friday drew a relieved "thank you" from the self-governed island nation, but sharp rebukes from Beijing.

The Bush administration on Friday notified Congress of the deal, after an unusually long delay that had led some to question the strength of the US security commitment to Taiwan.

Taiwan has not yet purchased the weapons. But a Congressional notification is the point in the arms sales process that triggers a storm of official Chinese diplomatic protests, said Mark Stokes, a former top Pentagon official dealing with China and Taiwan, in a talk to the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents Club earlier this year.

China typically summons top US diplomats in Beijing and elsewhere for a sharp dressing-down immediately after such notifications, Mr. Stokes said.

According to Xinhua, China's state-controlled news agency, the foreign ministry this time summoned the US embassy's charge d'affaires in Beijing. The report cited a statement on China's foreign ministry website.

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