The Trump administration has approved a sale of nearly $2 billion in weapons to Taiwan.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on Wednesday that the State Department gave the OK for the possible sale of 135 Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response missiles worth more than $1 billion, 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems M142 launchers for roughly $436 million, and six MS-110 reconnaissance pods for about $367 million dollars.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency wrote. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”
A State Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner that “consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
The intent to sell nearly $2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan was first reported on Oct. 13. On Friday, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that Taiwan needed “to fortify itself” against aggression from China. “Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area denial strategies,” O’Brien said during a teleforum with the Aspen Institute. “And really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a gray zone operation against them.”
“If concluded, the proposed sale of these systems will enhance Taiwan’s defensive capability. Taiwan intends to use its own funds for these purchases,” the spokesman added.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Japan that the United States “will be a good partner for security in every dimension” for Taiwan. “Our military has been very active in the region, ensuring that we have a presence so that we can ensure that there is, in fact, a capacity for a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
In recent days, China has ramped up its military presence around the island of Taiwan. Ahead of the National Day of Taiwan, authorities banned navigation around the island so that live-fire exercises could be conducted. The Diplomat reported that those were geographically the closest military exercises conducted near Taiwan “since the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced on August 13 that it would demonstrate ‘Multi-units and multi-directional systematized actual combat drills’ on the Taiwan Strait,” adding that People’s Liberation Army exercises have been “much more frequent since July.”
The State Department spokesman told the Washington Examiner, “The U.S. One China policy has not changed and remains guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances to Taiwan.”