WASHINGTON — The Bush administration Tuesday brushed aside Chinese concerns about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and said the way to ease tensions in the region was for Beijing to take a less threatening posture toward Taipei.

Earlier in the day, China said it was seriously concerned about a proposed U.S. arms package for Taiwan that included four Kidd class destroyers, eight diesel submarines and 12 P-3 submarine hunter aircraft.

In a significant concession to Chinese concerns, President Bush put off a possible sale of the Aegis naval air defense system to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.

Asked about the possibility the sale could hurt U.S.-Sino relations and China's view that the submarines constitute an offensive weapon, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "The president disagrees. (He) believes that this is a wise and proper course to take representing Taiwan's legitimate defense needs."

The decision keeps the Aegis system as a bargaining chip in U.S.-China relations, which have been strained by a dispute over the midair collision April 1 of a U.S. reconnaissance plane and a Chinese fighter jet off the coast of China.

"The best way to address this issue involving ongoing decisions the United States government will make vis a vis Taiwan's defense needs is for China to take fewer actions, rather than more, in terms of its military presence across the (Taiwan) Strait from Taiwan so that there is less of a threat to Taiwan," Fleischer added.

"The decision on what arms to provide to Taiwan (was) based on an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs. The presence of Chinese missiles across the strait is a reflection of what Taiwan faces and a factor the United States considered in determining what Taiwan's defense needs are," he said.

China used relatively measured language in its first reaction to news of the proposed U.S. sale, disclosed by U.S. officials Tuesday.

"China has viewed with serious concern the related reports," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said.

"China has consistently opposed the sale of weapons to Taiwan, and resolutely opposed the sale of Kidd Class destroyers, P-3 'Orion' planes and diesel-powered submarines and other advanced weapons," she said.