The US on Tuesday announced that it has approved the sale of up to US$95 million of training and equipment to support Taiwan’s Patriot missile defense system, something Taipei said would help protect the nation from any invasion by China.
“The proposed sale will help to sustain [Taiwan’s] missile density and ensure readiness for air operations,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
It added that Taiwan would use the proposed training and equipment as a “deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the arms deal — the third approved by US President Joe Biden’s administration.
“In the face of China’s continuing military expansion and provocation, Taiwan must fully demonstrate its strong determination to defend itself,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Our government will continue to strengthen our self-defense and asymmetric combat capabilities,” it added.
The Ministry of National Defense said the deal is expected to take effect in one month.
The latest arms purchase comes as Taiwan closely watches the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, as it also lives under the constant threat of an invasion by a giant neighbor.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the deal, saying it “severely harms US-China relations, and the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”
“China will take resolute and forceful measures to resolutely defend its own sovereignty and security interests,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) said.
China has sanctioned US defense giants — including Boeing Defense, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon — for selling arms to Taiwan.
Beijing has ramped up its saber-rattling in recent years, sending 969 Chinese warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone last year, according to a database compiled by Agence France-Presse — more than double the roughly 380 in 2020.
Taiwan has recorded about 280 warplanes entering the zone this year.
Western powers, as well as regional neighbors Japan and South Korea, have looked on with growing alarm at Beijing’s designs on Taiwan under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
On Tuesday, Australia announced that it was accelerating plans to buy long-range missiles, citing new threats posed by Russia and China, including a potential invasion of Taiwan.
“There was a working assumption that an act of aggression by China toward Taiwan might take place in the 2040s. I think that timeline now has been dramatically compressed,” Australian Minister for Defence Peter Dutton told Seven Network television.
Washington has remained Taipei’s most important ally and leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979.
The Patriot is a highly mobile surface-to-air missile system that would be a crucial defense against Chinese warplanes.
Former US president Donald Trump ramped up big-ticket arms sales to Taiwan during his time in office as he feuded with Beijing on a host of issues from trade to national security.
Sales included drones, missile systems and new-generation fighter jets.