By Reuters and published by Channel NewsAsia
Washington – The United States has approved a possible US$100 million sale of equipment and services to Taiwan to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the Patriot missile defence system used by the island, the Pentagon said on Monday (Feb. 7), drawing an angry threat of retaliation from Beijing.
China, which claims self-governed Taiwan as its own, routinely objects to US arms sales, adding to existing Sino-US tensions.
A statement from the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said it has delivered the required certification notifying Congress following State Department approval for the sale, which was requested by Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington.
Upgrades to the Patriot Air Defence System would “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region”, the DSCA said in a statement.
“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the agency said.
The main contractors would be Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin, it said.
Taiwan’s foreign affairs ministry said it “highly welcomed” the decision.
“In the face of China’s continued military expansion and provocative actions, our country will maintain its national security with a solid defence, and continue to deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States,” it said in a statement.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian offered strong condemnation.
“China will take appropriate and forceful measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests,” he told reporters.
Asked what measures China would take, Zhao said: “I wish to ask everyone to wait and see”.
China has imposed sanctions on Lockheed Martin and other US companies in the past for selling weapons to Taiwan, though it is unclear what form the penalties have taken.
Top: Flags of Taiwan and US are placed for a meeting in Taipei, Taiwan on March 27, 2018. File photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu and published by CNA