WASHINGTON—The U.S. State Department has approved the sale to Taiwan of spare parts for F-16 fighter planes and other military aircraft worth as much as $330 million, a deal that sparked admonishment from the Chinese regime on Sept. 25.
U.S. military sales to self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, is an irritant in the relations between the world’s two largest economies. Taiwan will still need to finalize details of the sale with U.S. companies.
“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient, which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement on Sept. 24.
As with prior U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, China voiced strong opposition and has already lodged “stern representations” with the United States, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
While the United States recognizes Beijing as the official government of “China,” it continually equips Taiwan with weaponry to assist the island in self-defense against Beijing’s continued military threats.
The Chinese Communist Party considers Taiwan a renegade province that must be reunited with the mainland one day—using military force, if necessary.
In a statement on Sept. 25, Taiwan’s Presidential Office thanked the United States for its support and said the island would continue to “stay in close communication and cooperation” with Washington for issues, including security.
Military experts say the balance of power between Taiwan and China has shifted in favor of China, which could probably overwhelm the island unless U.S. forces were to respond quickly in support.
The $330 million request covers spare parts for “F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), all other aircraft systems and subsystems, and other related elements of logistics and program support,” the Pentagon said, adding that it notified Congress of the possible sale. Lockheed Martin makes the F-16.
The Pentagon said the proposed sale is required to maintain Taiwan’s “defensive and aerial fleet,” and won’t alter the military balance in the region.
By Mohammad Zargham, Yimou Lee & Ben Blanchard