Washington to sell attack drones to Taipei

The four weapon systems have a value of $ 600 million. It is the tenth sale to the island approved by the Trump administration, the third in the past two weeks. For the United States, it will not alter the military balance in East Asia. Beijing's response is expected.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - The US government has given the go ahead for the sale of four attack drones to Taiwan. The announcement was made yesterday by the DSCA, the US agency that oversees foreign arms sales, in conjunction with the presidential elections (which most Taiwanese would like Donald Trump to win again).

Along with the four MQ-9 Reaper (or Predator B), the weapons package includes radar and navigation systems, and support stations. It is the first time that the United States has authorized the transfer of offensive drones to another country. The supply has a value of 600 million dollars: it is the tenth approved in favour of Taiwan by the Trump administration, the third in the last two weeks.

On October 21, Washington announced the sale of $ 1.8 billion worth of cruise missiles, sensors, artillery and mobile missile launchers to Taipei; on October 26, the transfer of 400 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 100 mobile missile launchers of the same weapon system was authorized. The cost: $ 2.4 billion.

The Office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen states the purchase of US drones will contribute to regional stability, and shows that Washington recognizes the need to help the island strengthen its defences under the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances". The two agreements regulate relations between the two countries, which do not entertain "formal" diplomatic relations, above all to ensure protection for Taipei in the face of military threats from China.

The DSCA points out that the sale of drones to Taiwan will not alter the military balance of the region. The inevitable response of the Chinese authorities is now expected, following Beijing’s reaction to the two October supplies by announcing sanctions for US companies that sell armaments to the island.

In the last period, Beijing’s pressure has increased against the executive led by Tsai, accused of carrying out an independence agenda. Since mid-September, 85 Chinese military aircraft have violated the island’s air space; these raids are in addition to those carried out by the naval forces of the People’s Liberation Army.

The Chinese regime considers Taiwan a rebel province, and has never ruled out reconquering it with the use of force. The island has in fact been independent of China since 1949; at the time, Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists found refuge there after losing the civil war on the mainland against the Communists, making it heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.