The White House has moved one step closer to a deal with Taiwan on the sale of weapons – notification of the upcoming three deals has been sent to Congress. This was announced by Reuters, citing five sources familiar with the situation.
The move ahead of the November 3 US elections, first reported by Reuters, is likely to anger China, which considers Taiwan to be a part of it, and has promised to annex it even by force.
The Chinese Embassy in the United States, in an e-mail statement to Reuters, urged Washington to stop arms sales and military ties with Taiwan “so that it does not seriously harm Sino-US relations and peace and stability between the two sides of the strait.”
An embassy spokesman said, “China has consistently and resolutely opposed the sale of US weapons to Taiwan and has a strong resolve to uphold its sovereignty and security.”
Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committees were advised that three of the seven planned deals had been approved by the Department of State, which oversees foreign deals.
We are talking about a highly mobile tactical missile and artillery system (HIMARS) manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp, long-range air-to-ground missiles produced by Boeing Co called SLAM-ER and external sensor units for F-16 aircraft, which allow real time to transfer images and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.
Sales notifications for other weapons systems, including large and sophisticated drones, Harpoon ground-based anti-ship missiles and underwater mines designed to prevent amphibious assault, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but are expected soon, the sources said.
A State Department spokesman said: “In accordance with US policy, it does not endorse or comment on proposed military sales or transfers until Congress is officially notified.”
The Foreign Relations Committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on Foreign Relations have the power to vet and block arms sales as part of an informal vetting process before the Department of State sends an official statement.
The Taiwan office in Washington said it did not comment.
The news of new arms sales came after senior US officials last week repeatedly called on Taiwan to spend more on its own defense and implement military reforms to signal the risks of a possible invasion to China.
This comes amid a significant increase in military activity near Taiwan by China, and tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Speaking last week, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien warned against trying to retake Taiwan by force, saying that amphibious assault landing was notoriously difficult and that the United States’ response would be highly controversial.
The United States is legally obligated to provide Taiwan with a means of defense, but it is unclear whether it will intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack, which could lead to a much more serious conflict with Beijing.
O’Brien said Taiwan needs to invest in defense, including the production of more coastal defense cruise missiles, naval mines, fast ships, mobile artillery and advanced surveillance equipment.