US approves $1.1bn in arms for Taiwan, angering China

Sunday, Sep 04, 2022

WASHINGTON: The United States on Saturday announced a $1.1 billion arms package for Taiwan, vowing to keep boosting the island’s defences as tensions soar with Beijing, which warned Washington of "counter-measures."

The sale comes a month after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defiantly visited the self-governing democracy, prompting mainland China to launch a show of force that could be a trial run for a future invasion.

The package -- the largest for Taiwan approved under President Joe Biden’s administration -- includes $665 million for contractor support to maintain and upgrade a Raytheon early radar warning system in operation since 2013 that would warn Taiwan about an incoming attack.

Taiwan will also spend $355 million on 60 Harpoon Block II missiles, which can track and sink incoming vessels if China launches an assault by water.

The deal also includes $85.6 million for more than 100 Sidewinder missiles, a mainstay of Western militaries for their air-to-air firepower.

Taiwanese Presidential Office spokesman Chang Tun-han in a statement thanked the United States for its continued support for the island’s security and defence.

"This arms sale will not only help our soldiers fight against grey zone coercion, it will also enhance the island’s early warning capabilities against long range ballistic missiles," he said.

The announcement of the sale comes one day after Taiwanese forces shot down an unidentified commercial drone amid a sudden spate of mysterious incursions that have unnerved the island following the earlier show of force by Beijing, which said it fired ballistic missiles over the capital Taipei. China, calling Taiwan an "inalienable" part of its territory, urged the United States to "immediately revoke" the arms sales.

"It sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and severely jeopardizes China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.

"China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation," he added.

A spokesperson for the State Department, which approved the sale, said the package was "essential for Taiwan’s security" and stressed that the United States still recognized only Beijing and not Taipei.