U.S. Approves $1.1 Billion Arms Sales to Taiwan, China Threatens to Take Action

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of a potential $1.1 billion arms sales to Taiwan including 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missies. China threatens to take counter measures. The Pentagon announced the package on Friday after China conducted large scale military drills around Taiwan in response to U.S. House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The package will include $85.6 million Sidewinder missiles, which can be used both for air-to-air and surface-attack missions; Harpoon anti-ship missiles at an estimated cost of $355 million and support for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program for an estimated $665.4 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said.

Chinese Embassy in Washington said in a statement that the arms sale was jeopardizing China-U.S. relations and peace and stability in the region. The statement added that China would take legitimate and necessary counter measures as a response.

The Biden administration said the latest defense package has been under consideration for some time and developed in consultation with U.S. and Taiwanese lawmakers.

White House senior director for China and Taiwan Rosenberger said the U.S. would provide Taiwan with necessary equipment to maintain its self defense capabilities on the back of heightened military air and maritime pressure of Beijing.

The Biden administration had been planning to send new military equipment to Taiwan but those would sustain the island’s current military systems, not offer new capabilities despite rising tensions following Pelosi’s visit.

The Pentagon said the equipment and support announced on Friday would not alter the basic military balance in the region. U.S. officials said they did not reflect any change in policy toward Taiwan.

U.S. State Department said the sales were routine deliveries to support Taiwan’s efforts to modernize armed forces and defensive capabilities.

Taiwan’s defense ministry thanked the U.S. for the latest sales, saying China’s recent aggression represented a serious threat and the arms sale would help it face China’s military pressure. The ministry added that it would help Taiwan’s defensive capabilities and maintain the security and peace across the Taiwan Strait and in the Indo-Pacific.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council said they oppose the “limited approach” to arms sales to Taiwan. The council stated that the island faces a serious threat and requires the ability to mount a full defense as shown during China’s “mock blockade”.

Although the sales must still be approved by the Congress, there is bipartisan support for Taiwan and opposition is not expected.

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