China on Wednesday strongly protested the U.S. military's mistaken delivery to Taiwan of intercontinental ballistic missile electrical fuses, demanding an investigation and steps to "eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences."

In a statement posted on the ministry's Web site, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China had brought a "serious representation" to Washington and expressed "strong displeasure" over the error.

The U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday that the Air Force had mistakenly shipped to Taiwan four electrical fuses designed for use on intercontinental ballistic missiles. The fuses have since been recovered and an investigation launched.

While the shipment did not include nuclear materials, the error is particularly sensitive because Beijing vehemently opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the self-governed island that China considers its own territory. Four of the cone-shaped fuses were shipped to Taiwanese officials in fall 2006 instead of the helicopter batteries they had ordered.

"We ... demand the U.S. side thoroughly investigate this matter, and report to China in a timely matter the details of the situation and eliminate the negative effects and disastrous consequences created by this incident," the statement said.

Qin again demanded an end to such weapons sales and military-to-military contacts between Washington and Taipei in order to "avoid damaging peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the healthy development of China-U.S. relations."