THE US on Friday approved potential arms sales to Taiwan worth $1.1 billion amid escalating tensions between Taipei and Washington with Beijing.
The package includes 60 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles worth $355 million, 100 Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles at $85.6 million, as well as logistics support for Taiwan’s radar surveillance program worth $665.4 million, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
The sale, the largest to Taipei under the Joe Biden administration, must be endorsed by Congress, where Taiwan has the support of both Democrats and Republicans.
“These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” a State Department spokesman told reporters, adding it is “essential for Taiwan’s security.”
Beijing warned of “counter-measures” should the arms package sale go ahead.
The US spokesman said the deal complies with the “one China” principle that Beijing imposes as the basis of its ties with any country.
Biden has reiterated on several occasions his respect for the principle, which made the US break diplomatic ties with Taipei almost half a century ago and establish them with Beijing.
In return, the US adopted the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, in which it promised to provide military aid to the island, but did not make it clear whether it would intervene in the event of a Chinese attack, a policy dubbed “strategic ambiguity.”
China claims sovereignty over the island, which it views as a rebel province, and has not ruled out use of force to achieve “reunification.”