US' planned $1.4bn arms sale to Taiwan irks China
The US is planning to sell around $1.4 billion in arms to Taiwan, the first such sale under the Trump administration. The move has angered China, which claims the self-ruled Taiwan as its territory. The US State Department said the weapons package comprises of technical support for early warning radar, high speed anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and missile components.
Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province and claims its Chinese territory under its "One China" policy. China has for decades opposed Taiwan's self-rule and has attempted to internationally isolate it by making other countries accept the "One China" policy. Democratic Taiwan opposes autocratic China's rule.
The arms sale is the latest in a series of Trump's flip flops on Taiwan. In December, following his election victory, Trump broke protocol by speaking to Taiwanese President Tsai, irking China. He then questioned the "One-China Policy" but later accepted it. After meeting China's President Xi in April, Trump rejected Tsai's suggestion of another phone conversation, indicating he's casting aside Taiwan over China.
US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the arms sale demonstrates US "support for Taiwan's ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability." However, this doesn't change Washington's long-standing stance accepting the "One-China policy," which recognizes Beijing, not Taipei. Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, welcomed the sale, calling it long-overdue. The weapons would upgrade the Taiwanese military's existing platforms.
"(The arms sale) increases Taiwan's confidence and ability to maintain the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. Tsai said Taiwan remains committed towards having constructive dialogue with China to promote positive relations. The Taiwanese defense ministry said the sale would strengthen the US-Taiwan security partnership, contributing to regional stability.
China's ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai said the arms sale to Taiwan threatens to undermine US-Chinese relations. He said it would erode the mutual trust built when US President Donald Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping in April at Florida. China has previously also protested and reacted angrily towards US arms sales to Taiwan.