The United States has approved a potential $100 million sale of equipment and services to boost the island’s Patriot missile defense system amid China’s increasing aggression against the self-ruled island.
“The Biden administration has approved a $100 million support contract with Taiwan aimed at boosting the island’s missile defense systems as it faces increasing pressure from China. The U.S. State Department announced the engineering and maintenance agreement on Monday,” Defense News reported.
China, which is sharply critical of any American arms sales to Taiwan, called on the U.S. to revoke the deal and stop any military interaction with the self-governing island.
“U.S. arms sales to Taiwan … seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and seriously damage China-U.S. relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday.
The money would be used to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the missile defense system, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement on Feb. 7.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” DSCA said.
The agency added, “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees Taiwan as part of its territory that must be united with the mainland, by force if necessary. However, internationally, Taiwan is widely recognized as a de facto independent body, given that it has been governed as a separate entity for more than seven decades.
In light of its ambitions toward Taiwan and the broader Asia–Pacific region, Beijing has been engaged in an aggressive program of military modernization.
U.S. military officials and China experts have given different timelines as to when China might attack Taiwan.
In March 2021, Adm. Philip Davidson, who was then-head of U.S. Indo–Pacific Command, told a Senate hearing that the Chinese regime could invade Taiwan in the “next six years.” Weeks later, Davidson’s successor at the Command, Adm. John Aquilino, testified in front of another Senate hearing that China might attack Taiwan sooner “than most think.”
Currently, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, ever since Washington changed its diplomatic recognition in favor of Beijing in 1979. However, the two sides have enjoyed a robust relationship based on the Taiwan Relations Act, a law that authorizes the United States to provide the island with military equipment for self-defense.
BIDEN CAUSED CONFUSION WITH REMARKS EARLIER
President Joe Biden says the United States would defend Taiwan against an attack from China. His comments come amid rising tensions between the two regional neighbors – and mark a departure from Washington’s long-held ambiguous stance. China has launched a record number of incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone in recent weeks. Beijing claims the breakaway territory as its own.
“These are grey zone tactics. China has been doing this since 2020, but it has increased as with the national day of celebration for the two countries. China has been signaling they are determined to unite,” one reporter told DW News.