The Biden administration approved a budget of $1.1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, escalating tensions between the Chinese Communist Party and the United States.
The Pentagon announced the sale of military equipment to Taiwan on Friday, September 2, which includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles. Since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, China has increased its harassment in the Taiwan Strait. It sent 16 fighter jets to fly over the island nation, as well as unidentified drones that invaded Taiwan’s outer islands’ air space. The frequent incursion of the drones without authorization provoked a reaction from Taiwan’s national army. For the first time it shot down a Chinese drone after firing warning shots on Wednesday, August 31.
The proposed sale of military equipment has yet to be reviewed and approved by Congress.
The military weapons package includes Sidewinder missiles, a short-range air-to-air missile used on fighter jets as well as attack helicopters, at a cost of $85.6 million. And there’s the Harpoon anti-ship missile systems at an estimated cost of $355 million, and technology for the Taiwanese radar system totaling $665.4 million, according to the Pentagon’s Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
Laura Rosenberger, White House director of China and Taiwan affairs, said in a statement that this is the largest U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. She added that “direct consultations and discussions have been held with members of Congress and Taiwan on their defense needs in light of evolving security circumstances.”
She said, “As the People’s Republic of China continues to increase pressure on Taiwan – including through an increased military air and maritime presence around Taiwan – and engages in attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, we are providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense said the arms sale is in line with the U.S.’s foreign policy regarding Taiwan.
The spokesman said: “Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available to Taiwan the defense equipment and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” He added: “these proposed sales are routine instances to support Taiwan’s ongoing efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a reliable defensive capability.”
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan,” the spokesman said.
Taiwan’s presidential office stated in a press release that the weapons equipment to be provided by the U.S. would help the country strengthen its defense capabilities to deal with China’s continued military intimidation.
“We will not escalate conflicts or provoke disputes, but Taiwan will firmly demonstrate its determination and self-defense capability to defend the nation’s sovereignty,” he said.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, the chairman of the Taiwan-U.S. Business Council, said the United States is showing a narrow view regarding the island nation’s military capability, as it would be providing basic military equipment and would not be contributing enough to modernize Taiwan’s defense system.
Hammond-Chambers said: “As the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently demonstrated in its blockade drill, the island faces a range of threats that require a range of capabilities.”
He added: “Denying the island the ability to mount a comprehensive defense will, over time, create new gaps in Taiwan’s defenses that the PLA will be able to exploit. The current U.S. policy of strategic ambiguity does not allow it to make clear that it will fill these gaps as they emerge.”
President Joe Biden repeatedly stated that the U.S. will continue to support Taiwan and defend it from possible attacks from China.
“That’s the commitment we made. This is the situation. We agree with the ‘One China’ policy, we’ve signed it, and all the agreements that have been made from there. But the idea that [Taiwan] can be taken by force…is not appropriate,” he said of the communist regime’s threats toward the island nation.
He continued: “It would disintegrate the whole region, and it would be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine. And so it would be an even heavier burden.”
However, foreign policy from the White House remains unchanged. Washington does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that Taiwan was trying to exaggerate tensions after the self-ruled island shot down an unidentified civilian drone this week.
However, following the U.S. announcement of arms sales to Taiwan, Chinese Embassy spokesman in the United States Liu Pengyu said the sale of military equipment “seriously jeopardizes China-U.S. relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” He added from his Twitter account: “The U.S. meddles in China’s internal affairs and undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests by selling weapons to Taiwan.”