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China-Taiwan conflict: US OKs to sell $1 billion arms

WASHINGTON –

The Biden administration on Friday announced more than $1 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan as US-China tensions escalate over the island’s status quo.

The $1.09 billion purchase includes $355 million for the Harpoon air-to-surface missile and $85 million for the Sidewinder air-to-surface missile, the State Department said.

The biggest part of the sale, however, was a $655 million logistical support package for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program, which provides air defense warnings. Early warning air defenses have become more important as China ramps up military exercises near Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province.

The State Department said the equipment was necessary for Taiwan to “maintain adequate self-defence.” The administration notified Congress of the sale after closing business on Friday.

The administration said the transactions were in compliance with the US one-China policy. It also urges Beijing to “stop military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogues with Taiwan.”

Laura Rosenberger, the White House’s senior director for China and Taiwan, said late Friday that as China “continues to increase pressure on Taiwan – including increasing its military presence… in the air and sea around Taiwan – and by participating in efforts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, we are providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defence.”

Tension and tough rhetoric between the United States and China over Taiwan have increased sharply since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island last month. Since Pelosi’s trip to Taipei, there have been at least two other visits by Congress and several visits by US state governors, all of which have been condemned by China.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s military said it shot down a drone hovering over one of its island outposts just off the Chinese coast in an incident that underscores rising tensions. . A day earlier, Taiwan said it had warned of drones hovering over three of the islands it occupies off the Chinese port city of Xiamen.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, to be annexed by force if necessary. The parties split after a civil war in 1949 and have no formal relations, with China severing even unofficial contacts following the election of independent-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing- wen in 2016.

Tsai’s administration has pushed to strengthen its anti-drone defense capabilities as part of the Defense Department’s annual budget to increase 12.9% next year. That would boost defense spending by a new NT$47.5 billion ($1.6 billion), out of a total of NTD 415.1 billion ($13.8 billion).

The United States described China’s drills last month as a serious overreaction and responded by sending two guided-missile cruisers through the Taiwan Strait, which China claims as waters belonging to China. its sovereignty.

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