In a meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan made it clear that Washington will no longer “tiptoe” around China’s aggressive behavior in Asia.
According to four sources familiar with the negotiations between the United States and Taiwan, Washington is pursuing the sale of weapon systems worth $2 billion to Taiwan. An informal notification of the proposed sale has been sent to the U.S. Congress for approval.
Sources preferred the cover of anonymity, since they were not authorized to speak on the potential deal.
The potential sale includes 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks from General Dynamics Corp worth $2 billion as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions, said three sources. The U.S. is the main arms supplier to Taiwan.
Earlier in March 2019, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen had said that Washington was responding positively to Taipei’s requests for new arms sales which it needs to bolster its defenses against China.
Although the United States has no formal ties with Taiwan it is bound by law to help and provide it with the means to defend itself.
According to a statement from Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, it had requested weapons and ammunition from the U.S. and that the request was proceeding normally.
The U.S. is expanding arms sales to its allies in the face of an increasing aggressive China, especially in the South China Sea.
Last week, the Pentagon announced it would sell 34 Boeing-made ScanEagle drones, to the governments of Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia for $47 million.
The drones are likely to bolster intelligence-gathering capabilities in the region.
China has claims almost on all of the strategic South China Sea and frequently lashes out at the United States and its allies over naval passing near islands that it has created and occupied.
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam all have competing claims.