Beijing hits out at Washington over proposed US$120 million arms deal to Taiwan

Beijing has blasted the United States for supplying arms to taiwan and demanded that it abandon a proposed US$120 million deal with the self-ruled island.

The US government on Wednesday announced the proposed sale of naval ship spare parts and related equipment as well as logistical support for Taiwan in the fourth such deal since President Joe Biden took office in January last year.

It comes ahead of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s first meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this weekend.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Thursday hit out at US arms sales to Taiwan, saying they “seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques … seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”.

He urged Washington to abide by the one-China principle and the three joint communiques and to withdraw its proposed deal with Taiwan.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said US arms sales to Taiwan “gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests”. Photo: AP alt=Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said US arms sales to Taiwan “gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests”. Photo: AP>

According to a statement released by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Wednesday, Taiwan had requested unclassified spare parts for ships and ship systems, logistical technical assistance, US government and contractor representative technical and logistical support, and other logistical and program support.

“This proposed sale serves US national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to maintain a credible defensive capability. The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region,” it said.

The agency said the deal would help Taiwan maintain its surface vessel fleet, “enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats.”

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” it said.

Taiwan’s presidential office, foreign and defense ministries on Thursday all expressed appreciation for the new US arms package, which will be sent to Congress for approval and signing by Biden in a month or so.

Presidential office spokesman Xavier Chang said Taiwan would “continue to resolutely demonstrate its determination to defend itself, maintain cross-strait and regional stability and strengthen the resilience of global democracy”.

He noted it was the fourth arms deal from the Biden government, which he said showed that the US was taking Taiwan’s defense needs seriously, as well as its rock-solid partnership with the island.

Biden approved the first deal – for 40 Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers worth US$750 million – eight months into his presidency. A US$100 million package in February includes equipment and services to support participation in the Patriot International Engineering Services Program and Field Surveillance Program for five years. A third deal in April involves US$95 million of equipment and services to maintain Taiwan’s US-made Patriot missile air defense system.

The deals have angered Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has repeatedly warned the US and other countries not to supply arms to or have official contact with the island. Beijing has not renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control and has in recent years stepped up a campaign of military intimidation and diplomatic pressure.

Chieh Chung, a senior researcher at the National Policy Foundation, a Taipei-based think tank affiliated with the opposition Kuomintang, said the arms deals under the Biden government were mostly related to spare parts, technical and logistical support.

“The only deal which could bolster our defenses is the [first] one that includes 40 Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers – but the Biden government has postponed that deal indefinitely,” Chieh said.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the scmp-app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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