Joe Biden’s administration has approved a $619 million arms sale to Taiwan, the Pentagon said. The US administration notified Congress of the proposed sale of munitions for F-16 fighter jets and other equipment, a decision that some analysts believe could raise tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The weapons package includes numerous missiles and multipurpose launchers and is intended to enhance Taiwan’s self-defence capabilities in the face of China’s growing military build-up. A State Department official explained that this potential sale will allow Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability and that it will use its own funds to make the purchase.
The Pentagon detailed that the package includes 100 AGM-88B high-speed anti-radiation missiles, 23 HARM training missiles, 200 AIM-120C-8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, 4 AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM Guidance Sections and 26 LAU-129 multi-role launchers. The sale will enhance Taiwan’s air defence capabilities, regional security and interoperability with the United States, according to the Pentagon statement.
For its part, the State Department said the sale was consistent with Washington’s traditional positions on Beijing and Taiwan. “US support for Taiwan and the steps Taiwan takes to improve its self-defence capabilities contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,” the department added.
Taiwan has welcomed the arms sales and declared that it will continue to actively improve its defence capabilities in the face of China’s continued military build-up and provocative behaviour. China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the Kuomintang Nationalists retreated there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists. Taiwan has maintained an autonomous government ever since and is now a democratic regime.
The arms sale was the first announced by the US this year and the ninth during Joe Biden’s presidency. Some analysts believe the sale could raise tensions between the US and China, as China has expressed strong opposition to arms sales to Taiwan.
In recent years, China has been increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region and has conducted military exercises near Taiwan. It has also pressured other countries to limit their military cooperation with Taiwan. The US has reiterated its commitment to Taiwan’s security and expressed concern about China’s growing military build-up.
Arms sales to Taiwan have also raised concerns about stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The region has witnessed growing tensions in recent years as China has been building artificial islands in the South China Sea and deploying its naval force in the Western Pacific. In addition, there have been territorial disputes between China and other countries in the region, including Japan and the Philippines.
Arms sales to Taiwan could also have implications for US-China relations. The two nations are already in the midst of a trade war and have had differences on issues such as human rights and technology.
In addition, arms sales to Taiwan could affect the peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan, an issue that has been key for China in recent decades. China has expressed its opposition to arms sales to Taiwan and has threatened to take action in response.
In short, US arms sales to Taiwan may enhance Taiwan’s self-defence capabilities and increase interoperability with the United States, but may also raise US-China tensions and have implications for stability in the Indo-Pacific region. Moreover, arms sales may affect the peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan, a key issue for China in recent decades.