US approves $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan drawing ire from China
DHARAMSALA, 10 June: The US has approved a potential $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan, the first in decades amidst escalating US-China trade war.
The US State Department has approved a potential arms sale to Taiwan, estimated to be worth $2.2bn (£1.76bn), the BBC reported citing the Pentagon; the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.
The deal, as stated by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) includes 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, 250 Stinger portable anti-aircraft missiles, related equipment and support.
The DSCA has further said that the proposed sale “will contribute to the modernisation of Taiwan’s main battle tank fleet”, improve its air defence system and “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of Taiwan.
The agency has maintained that propose arms sale to Taiwan would not alter the “basic military balance in the region”, the report added.
However, China is having none of it, called on the US to “immediately cancel” the proposed sale.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, addressing reporters on Tuesday has called the proposed deal a “crude interference” in Chinese internal affairs that harmed “China’s sovereignty and security interests”.
“China urges the US to … immediately cancel the planned arms sale and stop military relations with Taipei to avoid damaging Sino-US relations and harming peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he has said.
“Nobody should underestimate the Chinese government’s and people’s firm determination to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and oppose foreign interference,” he concluded.
The DSCA has notified the US Congress of the proposed arms sale to Taiwan. The US legislators have 30 days to object to the sale but are unlikely to do so, the report concluded.
Taiwan’s Presidential Office is reported to have expressed “sincere gratitude” to the US over the proposed arms sale.
The US is the island’s main arms supplier. Taiwan has maintained that it would “continue to deepen security ties with the US”.
Beijing considers Taiwan as an errant province and never shied away from using force to bring it under its control.
The ties between the two countries deteriorated under Taiwan’s first female President, Tsai Ing-wen as she refused to accept the Chinese claim over her island nation after her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leaning towards independence won the Presidential election in May 2016, after a landslide victory over the Kuomintang (KMT).
While China has used every means including its military might and political influences to isolate Taiwan, she has repeatedly called for international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy and way of life in the face of China’s renewed threats.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang troops fled to the island after losing China’s civil war to Mao’s Communist Party.