Biden administration proposes $750 million arms sale to Taiwan in a move likely to anger Beijing

Socialapps.Tech 39 Aug 4

The Biden administration has informed Congress of a proposed $750 million weapons sale to Taiwan in a move likely to further inflame tensions with Beijing.

The administration gave notice about the intended sale on Wednesday, according to a State Department spokesperson, two congressional sources, and a notification from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The deal includes 40 M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems and related equipment.

“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the modernization of Taiwan’s howitzer fleet, strengthening its self-defense capabilities to meet current and future threats,” the spokesperson said.

One of the congressional sources told CNN that Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez had already cleared the sale as part of the informal review process – a common practice in which the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees get a heads-up on planned sales, allowing committee leadership to raise concerns, give their input or place holds.

KINMEN, TAIWAN - APRIL 19: Aged anti-landing barricades are positioned on a beach facing China on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen which, at points lies only a few miles from China, on April 19, 2018 in Kinmen, Taiwan. China recently carried out live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait involving its Liaoning aircraft carrier, an exercise interpreted as a show of force and a message to self-governed Taiwan which China claims as its territory. The naval exercise was the first in the Taiwan Strait since 2016 and was held just over 100 miles off the coast of Taiwan. Following the defeat of the ruling Kuomintang party by the Chinese Communist Party and their retreat to Taiwan in 1949, cross-strait relations have varied from open conflict to diplomatic war. China's President, Xi Jinping, recently emphasised China's sovereignty over Taiwan by stating that 'We have sufficient abilities to thwart any form of Taiwan independence attempts'. Beijing has also imposed financial restrictions by significantly limiting the number of Chinese tour groups allowed to visit Taiwan and imposed trade sanctions on the island. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
KINMEN, TAIWAN - APRIL 19: Aged anti-landing barricades are positioned on a beach facing China on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen which, at points lies only a few miles from China, on April 19, 2018 in Kinmen, Taiwan. China recently carried out live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait involving its Liaoning aircraft carrier, an exercise interpreted as a show of force and a message to self-governed Taiwan which China claims as its territory. The naval exercise was the first in the Taiwan Strait since 2016 and was held just over 100 miles off the coast of Taiwan. Following the defeat of the ruling Kuomintang party by the Chinese Communist Party and their retreat to Taiwan in 1949, cross-strait relations have varied from open conflict to diplomatic war. China's President, Xi Jinping, recently emphasised China's sovereignty over Taiwan by stating that 'We have sufficient abilities to thwart any form of Taiwan independence attempts'. Beijing has also imposed financial restrictions by significantly limiting the number of Chinese tour groups allowed to visit Taiwan and imposed trade sanctions on the island. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

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This source said Menendez sees it “as yet another statement of the Biden administration’s serious intent to get strategy in the Indo-Pacific right, and its commitment to stand with our ally Taiwan.”

The United States has long provided arms to the island under the terms of the decades-old Taiwan Relations Act, and there is bipartisan support for supplying Taiwan with weapons. Last October, the Trump administration notified Congress of a proposed $1.8 billion in advanced weapons systems sales to Taiwan, and the administration had previously approved several major arms sales to Taiwan valued at more than $13 billion, including dozens of F-16 fighter jets, M1A2T Abrams tanks, portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and MK-48 Mod6 torpedoes.

Beijing has lambasted those sales, calling them a violation of China’s sovereignty. The country’s communist government views Taiwan as part of its territory, though the two have been governed separately since the end of a bloody civil war in 1949.

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In April, President Joe Biden dispatched an unofficial delegation to Taiwan in a show of support for the island, according to a senior administration official and a State Department spokesperson.

The State Department also announced in April that the agency had “issued new guidelines for U.S. government interaction with Taiwan counterparts to encourage U.S. government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening unofficial relationship.”

At the time, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “The guidance underscores Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important security and economic partner that is also a force for good in the international community.

“These new guidelines liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations, and provide clarity throughout the Executive Branch on effective implementation of our ‘one China’ policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances,” Price said.

Shortly before leaving office in January, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the United States was lifting decades-old restrictions on interactions between American and Taiwanese officials.


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