In the United States, the State Department has approved a $1.1 billion potential sale of military equipment to Taiwan. The package includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 anti-aircraft missiles. China has already threatened countermeasures in response.
The sale is subject to Congressional approval, but no opposition is expected.
The Pentagon, the US Department of Defense, had announced the arms supply in the wake of China’s recent military exercises around Taiwan. The Chinese show of force was prompted by a visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Pelosi was the most senior American official to travel to Taipei in years.
The US arms shipments to Taiwan include an arsenal of Harpoons, missiles built by Boeing that can be used against targets at sea ($355 million).
The pack also includes a set of Sidewinders, Raytheon missiles that can attack targets in the air and on the ground ($86 million). Finally, Raytheon also provides additional support for the Taiwanese radar program (665 million dollars).
The Chinese embassy in Washington said in a response that the possible arms sale would seriously endanger Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. “In light of these developments, China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures,” the Chinese embassy said.
“China continues to increase pressure on Taiwan,” Laura Rosenberger, US White House China-Taiwan director, noted in a statement. “This is happening in part through an increased military presence in the air and at sea around Taiwan. China is clearly making efforts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. That is why we provide Taiwan with the necessary equipment to guarantee its self-defense.”
It was reported last month that the administration of US President Joe Biden was planning a delivery of new military equipment to Taiwan. However, it was noted that the supplies would support Taiwan’s current military systems and fill existing orders, but would not build additional military capabilities.
The Pentagon also now notes that the supplies do not change the military balance in the region, nor do they represent a change in US policy towards Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense also stressed that China’s recent provocative activities posed a serious threat. It added that the arms shipments would help Taiwan cope with military pressure from China.
“The deliveries will allow us to strengthen national defense capabilities and help maintain security and peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry said.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, chairman of the United States-Taiwan Business Council, emphasized that his organization continues to oppose restrictions on arms sales to Taiwan. “Taiwan faces a number of threats for which a defense must be guaranteed,” Hammond-Chambers said.
“That has been clearly demonstrated by the recent bogus blockade that China has set up around Taiwan. It must be avoided that the Chinese military could exploit gaps in the Taiwanese defenses.”
The arms shipments reflect continued US support for Taiwan, which China has labeled a rebellious province. Taiwan says the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and therefore has no right to claim the area.