US approves possible $2.2bn arms sale to Taiwan

The sale of weapons, including Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles, announced despite Chinese opposition.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. M1A2 "Abrams" tank fires during U.S. led joint military exercise "Noble Partner 2016" near Vaziani
The US is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province [File: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters]

The US State Department has approved the possible arms sales to Taiwan estimated to be worth $2.2bn, the Pentagon said on Monday, despite Chinese criticism of the deal.

China’s Foreign Ministry said last month when the possible sale was first reported that it was seriously concerned about US arms sales to self-ruled Taiwan, and it urged the US to halt the sales to avoid harming bilateral ties.

The sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, would not alter the basic military balance in the region, the Pentagon‘s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement.

DSCA notified Congress on Monday of the possible arms sale, which it said could also include mounted machine guns, ammunition, Hercules armoured vehicles for recovering inoperative tanks, heavy equipment transporters and related support.

Reuters reported last month that an informal notification of the proposed sale had been sent to the US Congress.

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in March that Washington was responding positively to Taipei’s requests for new arms sales to bolster its defences in the face of pressure from China.

Washington has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself. The American Institute of Taiwan based in the capital, Taipei, acts as its de facto embassy.

Less than 20 countries recognise Taiwan as an independent nation.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry confirmed it had requested those weapons and that the request was proceeding normally.

The US commitment to providing Taiwan with weapons to defend itself helps Taipei’s military raise its combat abilities, consolidates the Taiwan-US security partnership and ensures Taiwan’s security, the ministry said last month in a statement.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies