World Digest: China warns U.S. against selling weapons to Taiwan
U.S. told not to sell weapons to Taiwan
Amid reports that the Obama administration is close to selling billions of dollars worth of weapons to Taiwan, a spokeswoman for the Chinese government warned the United States on Thursday that arms sales to the island would have "severe consequences."
"China firmly opposes arms sales to Taiwan by the United States. Our stance is consistent and clear," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing.
Ironically, the rift over arms sales to Taiwan comes at a time when relations between Beijing and Taipei have been growing warmer. Beijing regards the self-governing island as part of China, but Taiwan has governed itself since the Communist takeover of the mainland in 1949 sent Nationalist forces fleeing. The two sides recently eased barriers to travel and trade.
The Obama administration has worked to improve ties with China, but tension over Taiwan could complicate other issues, including how to contend with Iran and its nuclear program.
On Monday, Jiang said, "China always advocates resolution of the Iran nuclear issue through diplomatic negotiations, and we believe sanctions are not the way to solve the root issues."
-- Steven Mufson
Israel, Palestinians exchange strikes
Israel launched three airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, witnesses and the Islamist group Hamas said, after a day in which about a dozen mortar bombs and rockets fired from the territory landed inside the Jewish state.
There were no reports of casualties from the airstrikes in Gaza City and Khan Younis, which caused explosions and sent smoke and flames shooting into the air.