US backs arms for Taiwan despite Beijing protest
The US State Department has greenlit the proposed sale of $619 million worth of military supplies to Taiwan, including ammunition for F-16 fighter jets, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.
The deal contains hundreds of High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) and Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), as well as training missiles, guidance systems, multi-purpose launchers, spare parts, classified software, and other equipment. The principal contractors listed in the deal are Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Lockheed Martin.
The Pentagon’s press statement claims that the sale “serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”
At the same time, it’s noted that the proposed sale of this equipment and support would “not alter the basic military balance in the region” but would serve to bolster Taiwan’s ability to defend its airspace and improve regional security.
A State Department official was quoted by CNN as saying that the deal is “consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act,” as well as Washington’s ‘One China’ policy, and would “contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.” He added that Taipei would use its own funds for the purchase of the munitions.
Before the deal is finalized, it must pass through Congress, where lawmakers will have 30 days to discuss the sale and decide whether to let it proceed.
Beijing has responded to the deal by saying that it violates the ‘One China’ principle and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests. Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning urged the US to stop arms sales and military contact with Taipei.
The spokesperson also reiterated Beijing’s longstanding claim that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and insisted that Taipei’s “separatist activities” and Washington’s attempts to use the island to “contain China” are the “root cause” of tensions in the Taiwan Strait.