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China denounces US arms sales to Taiwan worth $1.8B

MDN issues travel ban for all military personnel in Taiwan. Photo: CNA. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

BEIJING, Oct 23, 2020, Hankyoreh. China is up in arms over the US government’s approval of arms sales to Taiwan. Military tensions along the Taiwan Strait have been mounting, Hankyoreh reported.

In a regular briefing on the afternoon of Oct. 22, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the US “seriously violates the one-China principle [. . .] by selling arms to the Taiwan region.”
“It seriously interferes in China’s internal affairs, seriously harms China’s sovereignty and security interests,” he added.

“China urges the US side to fully recognize the very damaging nature of arms sales to Taiwan,” he continued, stressing that the US should “cancel its arms sales plans to avoid further harming China-US relations and cross-strait peace and stability.”

According to Reuters and other sources, the US State Department announced to Congress on Oct. 21 that it had approved the exportation of three weapon systems worth US$1.8 billion to Taiwan, including state-of-the-art missiles. The weapons approved by the State Department included 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) developed by Lockheed Martin (US$436.1 million) and three external sensor pods for fighter aircraft developed by Collins Aerospace (US$367.2 million). Also included were 135 SLAM-ER long-range air-to-surface missiles by Boeing (US$1.08 billion).

Reuters explained that “the formal notification gives Congress 30 days to object to any sales.”

“Further congressional notifications are expected to follow Wednesday’s including drones made by General Atomics and land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing, to serve as coastal defense cruise missiles,” the report said.

The Donald Trump administration has continued to pursue arms exports to Taiwan amid the US’ escalating tensions with China. In the work of export approvals last year for Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter aircraft, it has granted additional approvals this year for US weapon sales valued at US$180 million, including 18 MK-48 anti-submarine torpedoes in May, which coincided with the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen in her second term.

In an Oct. 16 speech at the Aspen Security Forum, White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien predicted that China would have the capability to invade Taiwan within 10 to 15 years and stressed the need for Taiwan to reinforce its military in anticipation of that.

In a meeting with reporters the same day, Taiwanese Minister of National Defense Yen Teh-fa was quoted by the Liberty Times and other Taiwanese news outlets as saying that Taiwan “has no intention of entering an arms race with China, but needs to acquire a powerful deterrent in the interest of defense.” He went on to say that the arms sales approval “shows how much the US values the Indo-Pacific region and the security of the Taiwan Strait.”

“Taiwan will continue strengthening its security relationship with the US,” Yen added.

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