Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

US State Dept approves potential $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan

US State Dept greenlights $2.2bn sale of tanks & missiles to Taiwan despite China’s protests US approves possible arms sale to Taiwan
Patty Aguilar | 09 July, 2019, 10:31

Last month, China's Foreign Ministry had urged the U.S. to halt the sale, calling it an "extremely sensitive and damaging" decision.

The sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, would not alter the basic military balance in the region, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

Taiwan has always been requesting arms from the United States, which were broadly kept on hold, as the United States and China were engaged in serious negotiations.

Taiwan has been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but China has vowed to take control of the island, by force if necessary.

The Trump administration once again defied diplomatic pressure from China and approved a controversial $2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan - a move Beijing considers as a serious interference in Chinese domestic matters.

"Taiwan will speed up investment on defence and continue to deepen security ties with the United States and countries with similar ideas", Chang Tun-han, a spokesman for Taiwan's president, said in a statement.

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China has significantly stepped up diplomatic and military pressure on Taipei since Beijing-sceptic president Tsai Ing-wen was elected in 2016.

But it has been wary of big-ticket military equipment sales to Taiwan in recent years, fearful of stoking anger in Beijing.

It would be the first big-ticket USA military sale to Taiwan in decades, and comes amid already strained ties between Washington and Beijing - which has expressed "serious concerns" about the weapons.

Taiwan acknowledged the USA support for its defense systems in a statement released by its Foreign Ministry. The proposed sale of armed-to-the-teeth Abrams and Stinger missiles are clearly aimed at deterring China's invasion plans with considerable defensive capability for Taipei.

Its current tank force consists of around 1,000 CM 11 Brave Tiger and M60A3 tanks, technology that is increasingly obsolete.

Washington has given a green light to supply Taiwan with $2.2bn worth of United States military tech, including tanks and surface-to-air missiles, in violation of the One China principle that views the island as part of the mainland.

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