The Trump administration has approved more than $1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan in a move likely to further ratchet up tensions between Beijing and Washington.
The State Department announced Wednesday it had allowed the sale of 135 precision land-attack missiles, associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities.
The package is worth around $1.8 billion dollars.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” it said in a statement. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability” as well as military balance and economic progress in the region.
“The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to increase their warfighting effectiveness as needed, which can counter or deter aggressions by demonstrated precision against surface targets,” it said.
The move has angered China, which regards Taiwan as its own wayward province.
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China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman criticized the arms sale as “severe interference in China’s internal affairs” that threatens to “undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests,” according to comments obtained by Bloomberg.
In recent months, the Trump administration has stepped up military and diplomatic support for the island nation, including offering significant backing for its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, President Tsai Ing-wen pledged deeper ties with the United States after visiting with U.S. Under Secretary of State Keith Krach. Krach’s visit marked the second from a high-level official in two months and prompted a stern warning of possible retaliation from China.
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Relations between Washington and Beijing were already heated over issues such as trade, Tibet, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.