Trump Administration Approves $2.37 Billion More in Proposed Arms Sales to Taiwan

Trump Administration Approves $2.37 Billion More in Proposed Arms Sales to Taiwan
A U.S.-made F-16V fighter jet with its armaments is on display during an exercise at a military base in Chiayi, southern Taiwan, on Jan. 15, 2020. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen
The Trump administration has approved the potential sale of up to 100 Boeing-made Harpoon Coastal Defence Systems (HCDS) and related equipment to Taiwan in a deal that is estimated to be worth nearly $2.4 billion, the State Department said on Monday.
The department has notified Congress of the proposed sale that includes the HCDS and 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles to serve as coastal defence cruise missiles as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing continues its war posturing toward the democratically-ruled island. It is estimated to cost around $2.37 billion.

The proposed sale will help improve Taiwan’s security and “assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region,” the U.S. Defense Department has said.

It will also improve the region’s capability to “meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses” through employing “a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults.”

“This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces,” the department said.

In a statement on Twitter, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomes the State Department’s approval of the arms sale to Taiwan.

“The determination demonstrates the US government’s commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act & Six Assurances. It also enables the country to maintain a robust self-defense, & regional peace & stability,” the statement said.

“The U.S. is steadfast in its support for Taiwan’s ability to defend itself, esp against the Chinese Communist Party’s unprovoked aggression in the Taiwan Strait. StateDept should continue to authorize sale of more systems like this FMS case of Harpoon missiles,” wrote Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), lead Republican for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The move comes days after the State Department approved the potential sale of three other weapons systems to Taiwan, including sensors, missiles, and artillery that could have a total value of $1.8 billion, prompting a sanctions threat from China.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing on Monday that China will impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defence, Raytheon and other U.S. companies it says are involved in Washington’s arms sales to Taiwan.

The spokesperson said the move was to protect the Chinese regime’s national interests but did not specify what form the sanctions would take.

The CCP considers self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and refuses to recognize its sovereignty. Beijing has never ruled out using force to bring it under the Party’s control.

The CCP regards Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), as a renegade province of China proper and refuses to recognize its sovereignty. CCP leaders in Beijing have never ruled out using military force to bring the island under the Party’s control.

The ROC was established after the 1911 Wuchang Uprising overthrew the Qing Dynasty emperor—the last emperor of China. The ROC government retreated to Taiwan upon being defeated by the CCP during the Chinese Civil War, after which the CCP established a regime called the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. While China continues to be ruled by the communist party, Taiwan gradually transitioned to become a liberal democracy.

U.S. State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement: “We deplore Beijing’s efforts to retaliate against U.S. and foreign companies for their sales that support Taiwan’s legitimate self-defence requirements.”

The United States, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.

The Trump administration has ramped up support for Taiwan in recent months following Taiwan’s early warnings about COVID-19 and Beijing’s escalating military pressure through arms sales and visits by senior U.S officials.
Cathy He and Reuters contributed to this report.
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
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