US angers China over potential $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan

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WASHINGTON, Sept 2 (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $1.1 billion sale of military equipment to Taiwan, including 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, with China threatening to take countermeasures.

The Pentagon announced the package on Friday following China’s aggressive military exercises around Taiwan following a visit to the island last month by Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, the top official American to have visited Taipei for years. Read more

The sale includes Sidewinder missiles, which can be used for air-to-air and ground-attack missions, costing around $85.6 million, Harpoon anti-ship missiles costing an estimated $355 million and support for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program for an estimated $665.4 million, the Pentagon’s Defense and Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said.

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Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in a statement that the possible arms sale “seriously jeopardizes China-US relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. “.

“China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures in light of the developing situation,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s administration said the package had been under consideration for some time and was developed in consultation with Taiwanese and US lawmakers.

“As the PRC continues to increase pressure on Taiwan – including through an increased military air and sea presence around Taiwan – and engages in attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Straits, we are providing Taiwan what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities,” Laura Rosenberger, White House senior director for China and Taiwan, said in a statement.

Reuters reported last month that the Biden administration was planning new equipment for Taiwan, but the equipment would support Taiwan’s current military systems and fill existing orders, without offering new capabilities, despite heightened tensions following the visit. from Pelosi. Read more

The Pentagon said the equipment and support announced Friday would not change the basic military balance in the region. US officials said they did not reflect any change in policy toward Taiwan.

“These sales proposals are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continued efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a credible defensive capability,” a US State Department spokesperson said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry expressed its thanks, adding that China’s recent “provocative” activities posed a serious threat and that arms sales would help it cope with Chinese military pressure.

“At the same time, it also demonstrates that it will help our country strengthen its comprehensive defense capabilities and jointly maintain security and peace in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry said in a statement. communicated.

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council, said his organization opposed what he called a “limited approach” to arms sales to Taiwan.

“As the (Chinese) People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently demonstrated in its fake blockade, the island faces a range of threats that require a range of capabilities. Depriving the island of the ability to mount a comprehensive defense will, over time, create new gaps in Taiwan’s defenses that the PLA can exploit,” Hammond-Chambers said in a statement.

The order reflects continued U.S. support for Taiwan as Taipei faces pressure from China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and has never ruled out using force to bring the island under rule. democratically under its control.

The sales must be considered by Congress, but Democratic and Republican congressional aides said they do not expect opposition. There have been at least two other visits to Taiwan by members of Congress from both parties since Pelosi’s visit, as well as US state governors, all condemned by Beijing. Read more

The prime contractor for the Harpoon missiles is Boeing Co (BA.N). Raytheon (RTX.N) is the prime contractor for the Sidewinders and radar program.

Taipei claims that since the People’s Republic of China never ruled the island, it has no right to claim it.

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Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina; additional reporting by Rami Ayyub, Steve Holland and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Written by Caitlin Webber; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Lynn A. Saleh