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US approves $1.1 billion sale of arms to Taiwan; China threatens reaction

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SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $1.1 billion sale of military equipment to Taiwan, reports Reuters.

The sale includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles. The largest portion of the sale is a $655M logistics support package for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program, which provides air defense warnings, according to the Guardian.

U.S. officials say the deal does not reflect any change in America’s policy toward Taiwan. "These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability," an anonymous U.S. Department of State spokesperson said.

This deal represents the largest amount of support the Biden administration has given Taiwan, said Drew Thompson, a senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore.

"As the PRC continues to increase pressure on Taiwan – including through heightened military air and maritime presence around Taiwan – and engages in attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, we’re providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities," Laura Rosenberger, White House senior director for China and Taiwan, said in a statement.

Chinese officials quickly expressed their displeasure over the potential sale. Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said in a statement that the sale "severely jeopardizes China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," adding, “"China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation.”

Officials in Taiwan expressed gratitude for the sale announcement. "At the same time, it also demonstrates that it will help our country strengthen its overall defense capabilities and jointly maintain the security and peace of the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region," Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have risen dramatically in recent months. China claims Taiwan as its own territory, while Taiwan maintains an independent democratic government.

Visits by U.S. officials to Taiwan have strained an already fraying U.S.-China relationship. Last month, China halted talks with the U.S. on climate change and military coordination.

The arms sales must be approved by Congress, but both Democratic and Republican congressional aides said they did not expect opposition, according to Reuters.

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