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Home / World / China-wary US to arm Taiwan

China-wary US to arm Taiwan

The weapons packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing and General Atomics are moving their way through the export process
The Trump administration has become more aggressive with China in 2020 and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, a lingering trade war and disputes about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Reuters   |   Washington   |   Published 17.09.20, 01:31 AM

The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones, to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said, as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to the island were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimise tensions with Beijing.

But the Trump administration has become more aggressive with China in 2020 and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, a lingering trade war and disputes about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Taiwan’s desire to buy weapons increased after President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in January and has made strengthening Taiwan’s defences a top priority.

Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing says it is a Chinese province, and has denounced the Trump administration’s support for the island.

Washington has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan”, as Beijing’s military makes increasingly aggressive moves in the region.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US did not respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan’s military is well-trained and well-equipped with mostly US-made hardware, but China has a huge numerical superiority and is adding advanced equipment of its own.

The weapons packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing and General Atomics are moving their way through the export process, sources said, and a notification to Congress is expected within weeks.

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