White House okays $619-million arms package to Taiwan as China pressure grows

Washington/Beijing, Mar 2 (EFE).- The United States has approved a $619-million arms package, including missiles for F-16 jets, to Taiwan amid growing Chinese military incursions near the self-governed island.

A US defense press statement said Thursday that the State Department sanctioned a possible foreign military sale to Taiwan.

“This proposed sale is consistent with US law and policy,” the statement said. “The estimated total cost is $619 million.”

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) had requested arms and ammunition, including 100 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) and 200 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM).

It is the ninth arms sale approved for Taiwan by US President Joe Biden’s administration,

The Pentagon said the package would contribute to Taiwan’s capability to defend its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the US.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Taiwan expressed “sincere gratitude” to the US for approving the arms sale as Chinese military incursion threats grow in the region.

The Taiwanese defense ministry said the package would help boost its combat readiness as the Chinese military “continues its incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.”

A defense ministry statement said the US Congress was likely to confirm the military sale.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the approval “fully demonstrated the US government’s high regard for Taiwan’s defense capabilities.”

Taiwan is one of the key sources of tension between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China.

China considers the self-ruled island part of its territory.

Beijing says it reserves the right to use force to reunify Taiwan, even as a peaceful merger would be its first choice.

The island was the refuge of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) forces after losing the civil war with the Communists, who, since then, have claimed sovereignty over the territory.

In 1979, Washington broke diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing. However, the American Institute in Taiwan operates as a de facto embassy in Taipei. EFE


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