WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States announced a $1.1 billion Taiwanese weapons program on Friday, vowing to continue bolstering Taiwan’s defenses as tensions escalate with Beijing, which has warned Washington to “countermeasures”.
The sale comes a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s provocative visit to the self-governing democracies sparked a show of force from mainland China that could be a test for future incursions.
The plan, Taiwan’s largest package endorsed by President Joe Biden’s administration, includes $665 million in support for contractors to maintain and upgrade the Raytheon radar early warning system, which has been in operation since 2013. Will warn d an imminent attack in Taiwan.
Taiwan will also spend $355 million to buy 60 Harpoon Block II missiles that can track and sink incoming ships if China launches a hydraulic attack.
The deal also includes $85.6 million for more than 100 Sidewinder missiles, a mainstay of Western military air-to-air firepower.
In a statement, Taiwan’s presidential spokesman Zhang Tunhan thanked the United States for its continued support for Taiwan’s security and defense.
“This arms sale will not only help our soldiers fight against gray area coercion, but will also strengthen the island’s early warning capabilities against long-range ballistic missiles,” he said.
It comes a day after the Taiwanese military shot down an unidentified commercial drone, disrupted by a sudden series of mysterious Taiwanese military incursions following an earlier show of force by Beijing, which it says fired ballistic missiles at the capital Taipei.
China called Taiwan an “indivisible” part of its territory and urged the United States to “immediately withdraw” arms sales.
“This sends the wrong signal to separatist ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and seriously endangers China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said spokesperson Liu Pengyu. from the Chinese Embassy in Washington.
“The Chinese side will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures according to the development of the situation,” he added.
A State Department spokesperson who approved the sale said the package was “essential to Taiwan’s security” and stressed that the United States still only recognizes Beijing and not Taipei.
“We urge Beijing to end military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the sale “is a routine exercise in support of Taiwan’s continued efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a reliable defense capability.”
“The United States will continue to support the peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, which is in line with the wishes and best interests of the Taiwanese people.”
The sale must be approved by the US Congress, which is almost guaranteed as Taiwan enjoys strong cross-partisan support.
Prior to the visit of Pelosi, the second White House heiress, Biden officials quietly let China know that it does not represent administration policy because Congress is an independent and equal branch of government.
Weapons approval, on the other hand, apparently came from the Biden administration, though consistent with sales since 1979, when the U.S. moved to recognizing Beijing but agreed to maintain weapons capabilities. Taiwan self-defense.
Biden appeared to break with decades of American politics during a trip to Tokyo in May, saying the United States would directly defend Taiwan if attacked, though his aides later avoided his remarks, insisting on the fact that US policy remains intentionally ambiguous.
China views Taiwan as a province awaiting reunification and can use force if necessary. After a failed civil war on the mainland, Chinese nationalists established a hostile government in Taiwan in 1949, though the island became a vibrant democracy and a major technology hub.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised growing questions about whether China will follow Taiwan’s lead and whether the island is capable of defending itself.
CIA Director Bill Burns said in a July appearance that Chinese President Xi Jinping remained committed to controlling Taiwan, but Russia’s misfortunes in Ukraine could cause Beijing to wait and make sure that he has an overwhelming military advantage.
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