White House moves forward on three arms sales to Taiwan; China says will make necessary response

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Oct 13, 2020, 07:22 AM(IST)

Arm sales to Taiwan Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

China considers Taiwan a renegade province which it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

The White House has decided to move forward with three sales of advanced weaponry to Taiwan, sending in recent days a notification of the deals to Congress for approval.

This comes after senior US officials last week repeated calls for Taiwan to spend more on its own defence and to carry out military reforms to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade. It also comes at a time when Beijing has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan and as US-China relations have plunged to the lowest point in decades as the US election nears.

China considers Taiwan a renegade province which it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

To this end, China's foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it would make a "legitimate and necessary" response to US.

The United States should immediately halt all weapons sales to Taiwan, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

In September, Reuters reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the US export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the US State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales.

The informal notifications were for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Notifications for the sale of other weapon systems, including large, sophisticated aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines, to deter amphibious landings, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but these were expected soon, the sources said.

The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have had the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, have both sought to appear tough in their approach to Beijing.

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