The United States announced a new $1.1 billion arms package for Taiwan in recent hours amid growing tension with China, which has threatened “countermeasures” in response to the sale.
The announcement comes a month after third-in-line House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taiwan, sparking anger and the start of a series of military exercises by Beijing.
The new weapons package, which needs congressional approval, includes $665 million for an early warning radar system to help Taiwan track approaching missiles, the US State Department said.
China, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory, called on the White House to immediately revoke the sale.
Taiwan will also allocate 355 million dollars to buy 60 Harpoon Block missiles, capable of tracking and sinking ships if China launches a maritime assault.
The operation also includes 85.6 million dollars to acquire more than 100 Sidewinder missiles, emblematic in Western armies for their air-to-air firepower, the AFP news agency said.
The spokesman for the Presidential Office of Taiwan, Chang Tun-han, thanked Washington in a statement for its “continued support for the defense and security” of the island.
“This arms sale will not only help our soldiers fight the gray area of coercion, it will also improve early warning capabilities against long-range ballistic missiles,” he added.
The Asian giant, which considers Taiwan as part of its territory, called on the White House to “immediately revoke” the sale, which “sends the wrong signals to the separatist forces of ‘Taiwan independence’ and severely damages relations between States. United States and China, and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
“China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures in light of the development of the situation,” he added.
A State Department spokesman called the package “essential to Taiwan’s security” and insisted the United States continues to recognize Beijing and not Taipei.
“This proposed sale is business as usual to support Taiwan’s continued efforts to modernize its military and maintain a credible defensive capability,” he argued.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences in accordance with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan,” he added.