The United States announced a new $1.1 billion arms package for Taiwan on Friday, amid growing tension with Beijing, which threatened “countermeasures” in response.
The announcement comes a month after House Speaker and third in line of succession Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to Taiwan drawing the ire of mainland China, which launched a show of force that could be a test for a future invasion of the island.
Also a day after Taiwanese forces shot down an unidentified commercial drone amid a sudden series of mysterious raids that have baffled the island following a show of force by Beijing, which it said fired ballistic missiles at Taipei.
The new package, which needs congressional approval, includes $665 million for an early warning radar system to help Taiwan track incoming missiles, the State Department said.
Taiwan will also allocate 355 million dollars to buy 60 Harpoon Block missiles, capable of tracking and sinking ships if China launches a maritime assault.
The package also includes $85.6 million to purchase more than 100 Sidewinder missiles, iconic in Western armies for their air-to-air firepower.
– “Countermeasures” –
Beijing, which considers Taiwan an “inalienable” part of its territory, called on Washington to “immediately revoke” the sale, as it “sends the wrong signals to the separatist forces of ‘Taiwan independence’ and severely damages relations between the United States and China, and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington.
“China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures in light of the development of the situation,” he added.
A State Department spokesman called the package “essential to Taiwan’s security” and insisted the United States continues to recognize Beijing and not Taipei.
“These proposed sales are business as usual to support Taiwan’s continued efforts to modernize its military and maintain a credible defensive capability,” the spokesman said.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait differences in accordance with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan,” he added.
China considers Taiwan a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
Chinese nationalists established an opposition government in Taiwan in 1949 after losing the civil war in mainland China. Since then the island has become an active democracy and a key technological center.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about whether China is capable of doing the same with Taiwan, and whether the island is equipped to defend itself.