US President Donald Trump has submitted to Congress several proposals for the sale of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, according to reports by Reuters and Defense News, moves likely to anger the Chinese government following other initiatives by Washington to strengthen ties with the self-governing island.
On Tuesday, the White House notified Congress of its plan to sell to Taiwan MQ-9 drones, made by General Atomics, and Boeing-produced, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Reuters said, citing sources familiar with the situation.
On Monday, the notifications included sales of the Lockheed Martin-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a truck-mounted rocket launcher; the Boeing-made precision strike missile Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, and external sensor pods for Taiwan’s F-16 jets, according to Reuters and Defense News.
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“As a matter of policy, the US government does not comment on or confirm potential or pending arms sales or transfers before they are formally notified to Congress,” the US state department said in response to questions about the reports, and referred the question to the Taiwanese authorities.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency, the arm of the defence department that manages foreign arms sales, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
Reports of the impending sales follow Washington’s approval to sell Taiwan military equipment worth US$2.2 billion – including 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, 250 Stinger missiles and related equipment – which was granted by the state department in July 2019.
Beijing has threatened to retaliate over US arms sales to Taiwan.
“The United States should immediately cancel the planned weapon sales to Taiwan, stop any arms deals and cut off their military ties,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
The US is required to defend the self-governed island under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which was signed into law by former president Jimmy Carter as a concession to lawmakers and other policymakers who had opposed Washington’s switching of official diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing.
The Chinese government – which views Taiwan as a wayward province to be united with the mainland, by force if necessary – strongly opposes US weapon sales to the island, a regular sticking point throughout Beijing’s four-decade relationship with Washington.
During a controversial visit to the island in August, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar confirmed that he had discussed trade issues with officials in Taipei “including questions surrounding bilateral trade arrangements”.
The visit was significant on two counts: because Azar was the most senior US official to travel to Taipei on official government business since Washington severed diplomatic ties, and for signs that US-Taiwan trade talks might be on the agenda.
Other significant US arms packages for Taiwan in recent years have included the Trump administration’s 2017 sale of US$1.4 billion worth of Raytheon High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMS) and SM-2 series ship-based surface-to-air missiles, operated with the Aegis Combat System on US guided-missile destroyers and cruisers, and MK48 submarine-launched torpedoes for use against surface ships, also by Raytheon, a US defence contractor.
In 2008, the administration of former president Barack Obama authorised the sale of US$6.4 billion in missiles, helicopters and other weaponry to Taiwan.
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This article Donald Trump ‘plans more US arms sales to Taiwan including MQ-9 drones’ first appeared on South China Morning Post