The Biden administration has approved its first arms sale to Taiwan, potentially worth $750 million. The deal has come at a crucial point and it is certain to negatively impact US-China relations.
Under this deal, Taiwan will receive 40 new M109 self-propelled howitzers, a number of other armored vehicles, machine guns and almost 1,700 kits to convert projectiles into more precise GPS-guided munitions.
The Deal Can Boost Taiwan's Military Capabilities
"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," the State Department spokesperson said.
As well as furthering Taiwan's goal of updating its military capabilities, the sale would also enhance its "interoperability with the United States and other allies", the State Department wrote in its notification.
Yet while serving as a clear signal of US support for Taiwan, the arms sale would "not alter the basic military balance in the region," the notification added, reported the South China Morning Post.
The proposed sale must go through a congressional review process and then through negotiations between Taiwan and contractor BAE Systems.
Taiwan Welcomes the Move by US
Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter said it "highly welcomes" the move and thanks the US for fulfilling its "security guarantees" to the island. The sales will allow it to "obtain necessary defense equipment in real time to boost our deterrence capabilities," it said.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said it expected the sale to take effect after one month.
The United States has long provided arms to the island under the terms of the decades-old Taiwan Relations Act, and there is bipartisan support for supplying Taiwan with weapons.
Last October, the Trump administration notified Congress of a proposed $1.8 billion in advanced weapons systems sales to Taiwan, and the administration had previously approved several major arms sales to Taiwan valued at more than $13 billion, according to CNN.
China Expressed Disapproval Over the Arms Sale
The arms sale has angered China and there's no surprise over it. According to Bloomberg, the Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced the sale and said Thursday that Beijing would take countermeasures "based on the development of the situation."
"[The proposed weapons sale] sends wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and seriously damages Sino-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," the statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
China has time and again undermined Taiwan's sovereignty through its military aggression and constant incursions. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory by referring to the 'One China Policy'. However, the US in recent years have supported Taiwan and ramping up its efforts to contain the rise of China in Indo-Pacific.