The US administration led by Donald Trump approved an arms deal worth $5 billion with Taiwan on Tuesday, amid tensions with China. In the move that could enrage China, The US has confirmed the potential sale of three weapons systems including missiles and artillery. The sale of 135 precision land-attack missiles, associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defence capabilities has been approved by the State Department.
The deal comes at a time when the US ramps up pressure on China about Beijing’s intentions towards Taiwan. Among the weapons approved for sale includes a11 truck-based rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), worth approximately $436.1 million.
These also include 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment made by Boeing Co, for an estimated $1.008 billion, and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for jets, at an estimated cost of $367.2 million. The total value of sales come up to $5 billion divided into five separate transactions.
Taiwan’s defence and the foreign ministry said the weapons would help improve its defence capabilities. “This arms sale shows that the United States attaches great importance to the strategic position of the Indo-Pacific region and the Taiwan Strait, and is actively assisting our country in strengthening our overall defence capabilities,” Taiwan’s Defense Ministry told Reuters.
“This includes a credible combat capability and asymmetric warfare capabilities to strengthen our determination to defend ourselves,” Taiwanese Defence Minister Yen De-fa said.
“This shows the importance attached by the United States to security in the Indo Pacific and Taiwan Strait. We will continue to consolidate our security partnership with the United States,” De-fa added.
China’s foreign ministry urged Washington to cancel the planned sales and warned that China would “make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”
China, who sees Taiwan a breakaway province that will eventually be a part of the mainland, has been ratcheting up pressure on the island ever since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016.