The Biden administration has approved the potential sale of Volcano anti-tank munition-laying systems to Taiwan for an estimated $180 million, the State Department announced on Dec. 28.
The possible sale comes as tensions between communist Beijing and liberal-democratic Taiwan continue to escalate.
According to a statement from the U.S. State Department, the Biden administration notified Congress on Wednesday of its approval of the potential arms sale, and other related equipment, in accordance with U.S. law.
“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 statement said. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”
In a separate statement, Taiwan’s defense ministry said that the sale would be effective in roughly one month and that the move marked Washington’s eighth arms sale to the self-ruled island under Biden, which it said “fully demonstrated the U.S. government’s high regard for Taiwan’s defense capabilities.”
Systems to Boost Taiwan’s ‘Asymmetrical Warfare Capabilities’
According to the defense ministry, the sale also includes M977A4 HEMTT 10-Ton cargo trucks upon which the Volcano system will be mounted, M87A1 Anti-Tank (AT) munitions, M88 canister training munitions, M89 training munitions, and related logistics support and technical assistance.
The equipment will serve to significantly boost Taiwan’s “asymmetrical warfare capabilities,” the statement said.
Tensions between communist China and Taiwan, a U.S. ally, have soared this year and were further exacerbated by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit in August.
The Chinese regime, which claims Taiwan as its own, said at the time it was strongly opposed Pelosi’s visit and other governments or international organizations forming ties with Taiwanese officials.
Shortly after Pelosi returned to the United States, Beijing ramped up military activity near Taiwan, launching live fire drills and 11 ballistic missiles into waters around the island.
Tensions rose again on Dec. 26 when the CCP sent 71 planes and seven ships around the island during a 24-hour period shortly after President Joe Biden on Dec. 23 signed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023, which included funding and support for Taiwan.
Previously in September, the administration approved more than $1.1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan; marking the largest sales package since Biden took office.
Taiwan Extends Mandatory Military Service
Earlier on Dec. 27, President Tsai Ing-wen announced that Taiwan will extend its mandatory military service from four months to one year in 2024 in an effort to bolster military readiness in the event of an attack from Beijing.
“As long as Taiwan is strong enough, it will be the home of democracy and freedom all over the world, and it will not become a battlefield,” Tsai told a news conference announcing the decision, which she described as “incredibly difficult.”
“As the head of military forces, it is my unavoidable duty to defend national interests and our democratic way of life,” Tsai said. “No one wants war, Taiwan and Taiwanese people are the same, and the international community is the same,” she said, noting that the Chinese communist regime has stepped up its military aggression in recent months.
The White House welcomed the new conscription reform, which will apply to men born after 2005, saying it underscores “Taiwan’s commitment to self-defense and strengthens deterrence.”
In a statement to CNN, a White House spokesperson also reiterated U.S. support for Taiwan, stating that the Biden administration will continue to assist the nation in “maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability in line with our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act and our one-China policy.”
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, and oppose any unilateral changes in the status quo by either side,” the spokesperson added.