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Trump administration moves forward with Taiwan arms sales

Trump administration moves forward with Taiwan arms sales
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The Trump administration has sent lawmakers several arms sales to Taiwan to review, a congressional aide confirmed to The Hill on Monday.

The aide did not confirm the specific sales, but Reuters, which first reported the informal notifications, said the three sales include a Lockheed Martin-made truck-mounted rocket launcher called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Boeing-made air-to-ground cruise missiles called Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response and external sensor pods for F-16 fighter jets.

Informal notifications of arms sales approvals are sent to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees ahead of a formal notification to the full Congress to give leaders of those committees time to provide input.

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Typically, the formal notification happens 30 days after an informal notification is received, unless a lawmaker raises concerns. Conversely, if a sale is widely supported, the timeline can be accelerated.

Once Congress is formally notified of a sale, lawmakers have 30 days to review the sale and to block it if they want to.

The State Department declined to comment Monday ahead of the formal notification.

“As a matter of policy, the department does not comment on or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesman said.

Monday’s news comes after several outlets reported in September that the administration was preparing to approve a package of seven arms sales to Taiwan worth $7 billion. Notifications for other weapons in that package are expected soon, according to Reuters.

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The Trump administration is moving forward with the weapons sales with just three weeks to go before the U.S. presidential election, in which both President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Trump campaign eyes election night party at his sold-out DC hotel Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE have sought to portray themselves as tough on China.

U.S.-China relations are also near their lowest point as Trump and his Republican allies seek to deflect blame for the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the United States onto China, where the first cases of the virus were detected in late 2019.

Approval of the sales would undoubtedly anger Beijing, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and objects whenever the United States announces a new arms sale there.

Beijing has also been stepping up military activity around the island recently amid several high-ranking visits to Taiwan from Trump administration officials, including from Under Secretary of State Keith Krach and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

“Once the People's Liberation Army dispatches troops to reunify the island of Taiwan, the military equipment from the US will be nothing but decorations,” Global Times, a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party, wrote in a recent op-ed railing against Krach’s visit.