The Biden administration has approved its first arms sale to Taiwan, a move sure to stoke Beijing’s ire.
The State Department has approved selling Taiwan up to 40 BAE Systems-made M109 self-propelled howitzers and related equipment, including up to 1,698 kits to turn projectiles into precision-guided munitions, in a deal estimated to be worth $750 million, according to a notice released Wednesday.
“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,” the notice said. “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 sale was first reported by Bloomberg.
The notice kicks off a 30-day congressional review period in which lawmakers could move to block the sale if they want. But arms sales to Taiwan have generally garnered strong bipartisan support.
China, meanwhile, has frequently lashed out whenever the United States approves more arms for Taiwan, which it sees as a breakaway province.
In November, China vowed a “proper and necessary response” after the Trump administration approved a $600 million drone sale to Taiwan that Beijing said “brutally interferes in China’s internal affairs and seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests.”
China, which some U.S. military officials have warned could try to invade Taiwan sooner rather than later, has in recent months ramped up military drills near the island, including flanking it with warplanes and ships.
Last week, during a trip through the region, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinUS extends security pact with Georgia for six years Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Nation mourns Colin Powell Powell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief MORE referenced Taiwan as he said that “we will not flinch when our interests are threatened,” though he added “we do not seek confrontation” with China.
“We're working with Taiwan to increase its own capabilities and to increase its readiness to deter threats and coercion,” Austin said, “upholding our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and consistent with our one-China policy.”