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US Approves Potential $ 2.2 Billion Arms Sale to Taiwan

WASHINGTON – The US State Department has approved the potential sale to Taiwan of $ 2.2 billion worth of weapons, including Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles, the Pentagon said on Monday.
The announcement is likely to provoke anger in Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a part of its territory and has already expressed “serious concerns” about the eventual sale.
Congress was informed of the potential of the agreement, which would include 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, about 250 Stinger missiles, related equipment and support, according to the defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).
US lawmakers have 30 days to oppose the sale, but they are unlikely to do so.
The proposed tank sale “would contribute to the modernization of the recipient’s main tank fleet, enhancing its ability to cope with current and future regional threats and strengthen its territorial defense,” said DSCA. But that would not alter “the basic military balance in the region,” according to DSCA.
Taiwan’s presidential office has expressed “sincere gratitude” to the US government for selling arms.
“Taiwan will accelerate defense investments and continue to strengthen security ties with the United States and like-minded countries,” Chang Tun-han, spokesman for the Taiwanese president, said in a statement.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in March that Washington was responding favorably to Taipei’s demands to sell new weapons in order to strengthen its defenses against pressure from China. The United States has no formal connection with Taiwan, but is required by law to provide it with the means to defend itself.
Beijing has announced its opposition to the possible sale earlier this month.
We have repeatedly insisted that the United States fully understands the extremely sensitive and damaging nature of their decision to sell arms to Taiwan, and abide by the principle of single China, said the spokesman for the ministry. Foreign Minister Geng Shuang.
Taiwan has been governed separately since the end of the civil war in 1949, but China has promised to take control of the island, by force if necessary.
China has significantly intensified diplomatic and military pressure on Taipei since the election of Beijing skeptical President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016. It has conducted military exercises near the island and is gradually reducing the already limited number of nations recognizing Taiwan.
The United States transferred diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but Taipei remains an important ally.
In recent years, Washington has been reluctant to close major arms deals with Taiwan, fearing to stir up China’s anger.
But President Donald Trump – whose government is plunged into a trade war with Beijing that saw both sides impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars – sought to strengthen ties with Taipei and was more willing to sell important weapon systems.
Taiwan would be badly armed in terms of numbers of soldiers and firepower in any war against China and desperately needed to modernize much of its equipment.
Its current tank strength includes about 1,000 tanks CM 11 Brave Tiger and M60A3, a technology increasingly obsolete.
Abrams tanks and anti-aircraft missiles that could be quickly moved by soldiers on the ground would greatly increase Taiwan’s ability to destroy Chinese Armor and combat aircraft in the event of an invasion.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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