Washington: The US State Department approved on Wednesday the $180 million sale of vehicle-launched anti-tank systems to Taiwan, the Pentagon said, the latest weapons deal between the self-governed island and its main ally.
Taiwan would receive Volcano anti-tank munition-laying systems, cargo trucks, ammunition, logistics support packages and a myriad of other related services under the deal, according to a Pentagon statement.
“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the statement said.
Beijing claims democratically run Taiwan as part of its territory, to be taken one day, and has become more aggressive toward the island under President Xi Jinping.
It has responded with growing anger to visits by US and other foreign politicians this year and staged huge military drills to protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August, sending tensions to the highest level in years.
US President Joe Biden signed into law a defense spending bill last week that included up to $10 billion in military grant assistance to Taiwan.
The bill authorizes up to $2 billion a year in assistance to Taiwan from 2023 to 2027.
Beijing said in response to the bill’s earlier passage by the US House of Representatives it was “firmly opposed to the US using the National Defense Authorization Act to pass negative content related to China”.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Monday China had deployed 71 warplanes to conduct weekend military exercises around Taiwan, including dozens of fighter jets.
The aircraft had committed one of the largest daily incursions into Taiwan-controlled airspace to date.
The Chinese military described the exercises as a “strike drill,” conducted in response to unspecified “provocations” and “collusion” between the United States and the self-ruled island.
The US statement on the latest arms sale said Taiwan’s purchase of the new anti-tank systems would “not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
“The proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a credible force capable of deterring adversaries and participating in regional operations,” the statement said.