10/22/2020, 16.33
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Washington to sell weapons worth US$ 1.8 billion to Taipei

Taiwan welcomes the US decision. China strongly criticises it, promising a “legitimate and necessary response”. During the Trump presidency, Taipei bought weapons worth US$ 653 million. Washington's move threatens to increase already high tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – The US State Department yesterday gave the green light to a new arms sale deal with Taiwan worth US$ 1.8 billion.

The Pentagon said that the package includes several weapon systems, like standoff land attack missiles, sensors, artillery and mobile missile launchers.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the US agency that oversees foreign weapons sales, the new weapons will give Taiwan a credible defensive capability.

According to SIPRI, the United States sold US$ 3.6 billion in military hardware to Taiwan between 2010 and 2019. Since coming to power, the Trump administration sold US$ 653 million to Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government has welcomed the US decision, in line with the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits Washington to support the island's defensive capabilities.

Beijing takes the opposite view. During a press conference, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the sale constituted interference in China's internal affairs, and that “China will make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”

Beijing considers Taiwan a rebel province, and has never ruled out using force to take it.

The island has been de facto independent from the mainland since 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek's nationalist forces fled the mainland after losing the civil war against the Communists. Taiwan is thus the heir to the Republic of China founded in 1912.

In recent months, China’s leaders have increased their pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, accusing her of pursuing a pro-independence agenda.

Since 16 September, Chinese military aircrafts have violated Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on 21 days; these incursions are in addition to those carried out by naval forces of the People’s Liberation Army.

According to a report published in the South China Morning Post last Sunday, Beijing is reinforcing its missile bases along the coasts of Fujian and Zhejiang in preparation for a possible invasion of Taiwan.

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