While United States President Donald Trump has been seeking Chinese help to rein in North Korea, China is sure to be angered by the plan of the U.S. to sell Taiwan $1.42 billion in arms, the first such sale under the administration of Trump.
The administration had told Congress of the seven proposed sales on Thursday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.
“It’s now valued about $1.42 billion,” she said.
Technical support for early warning radar, high speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and missile components were part of the package, the State Department said.
While there was no change to the United States’ long-standing “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing and not Taipei, the sales showed U.S. “support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” Nauert said.
The sale will be the first since a $1.83 billion sale that former President Barack Obama announced in December 2015, to China’s dismay and would require congressional approval.
In addition to anti-tank missiles and amphibious attack vehicles, two navy frigates were included in the previous package.
The latest package primarily represented “upgrades to existing defense capabilities aimed at converting current legacy systems from analog to digital,” a State Department official said.
Its air and sea combat capability and early warning defenses would be enhanced by the items, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.
“We will as soon as possible discuss with the United States the purchase, the duration, the amount and other details, and plan the follow-up budget,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
In order to contribute to long-term stability in the region, Taiwan and the United States would continue to consolidate their security partnership, it said.
The Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee welcomed what he called the “long-overdue” arms sale in a strong sign of congressional support.
“Sales of defensive weapons, based on Taiwan’s needs, are a key provision of our commitments as laid out by the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances,” said Rep. Ed Royce, referring to legislation and informal guidelines that steer U.S. relations with Taiwan.
As Trump sought to persuade Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, an increasing threat to the United States, talks of a big arms sale to Taiwan died down which was announced by U.S. officials said in March.
A bill calling for the resumption of port visits to Taiwan by the U.S. Navy for the first time since the United States adopted a one-China policy in 1979 was approved by a U.S. Senate committee and China responded angrily and said it had protested to Washington about it earlier on Thursday.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman called on Washington to halt arms sales to Taiwan “to avoid further impairing broadly cooperative China-U.S. relations” and halt military drills with Taiwan and said that the bill was in violation of the principles of U.S.-China relations.
While accusing a Chinese bank of laundering money for Pyongyang, sanctions on two Chinese citizens and a shipping company for helping North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, was imposed by Washington on Thursday as it stepped up pressure on Beijing.
(Adapted from CNBC)