The U.S. State Department approved a potential $750 million arms sale to the island nation of Taiwan on Wednesday, marking the first major deal approved by the United States under the presidency of Joe Biden. The move is certain to inflame tensions with Beijing, which has long viewed Taiwan as a breakaway province of China.
According to Bloomberg News, the deal is set to include “40 new M109 self-propelled howitzers and almost 1,700 kits to convert projectiles into more precise GPS-guided munitions.” The proposed sale must go through congressional approval, followed by negotiations between “Taiwan and contractor BAE Systems Plc, which is also providing the U.S. Army with the latest version of the howitzer, before a contract is signed and delivery times are hashed out.”
“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the modernization of Taiwan’s howitzer fleet, strengthening its self-defense capabilities to meet current and future threats,” a State Department official told CNN.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry welcomed the deal, saying the proposed sale would help the island nation “maintain a rock-solid self-defense” and “regional peace and stability.”
“Faced with China’s continuing military expansion and provocations, our government will boost national defence and security with an unwavering determination to defend people’s lives and our free and democratic way of living,” it added.
We welcome @StateDept's approval of a proposed US$750M arms sale to #Taiwan🇹🇼. The decision demonstrates the #US🇺🇸 government's commitment to the #TaiwanRelationsAct & #SixAssurances. It also allows the country to maintain a rock-solid self-defense, & regional peace & stability. https://t.co/3IVd2GMWUa
— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 4, 2021
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs lashed out at the proposal, affirming that “Beijing is firmly opposed” to any form of arms sale and threatening to “take legitimate and necessary counter-measures” in response.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory, and the US has interfered in China’s internal affairs and undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests by selling arms to the Taiwan region,” the agency said. “It runs counter to international law and basic principles in international relations, and violates the one-China principle and provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, especially the Aug 17 Communique.”