Washington approves US$1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan

Washington approves US$1.3 billion arms sale to Taiwan

The United States plans to sell Taiwan $US1.42 billion ($A1.85 billion) in arms, the first such sale under the administration of Donald Trump and a move sure to anger China, whose help the president has been seeking to rein in North Korea.

The sale announced by a US State Department spokeswoman on Thursday comprises seven items, including technical support for early warning radar, anti-radiation missiles, torpedoes and components for SM-2 missiles, the Associated Press reported.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed the deal during a news conference Thursday, saying “the administration had formally notified Congress of seven proposed defense sales for Taiwan”, adding that the deal was valued at “about $1.42 billion”. Nauert said the approvals did not violate the Taiwan Relations Act that governs USA contacts with the island. But such talk died down as Trump sought to persuade Beijing to do more to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, an increasing threat to the US.

The sales show American “support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability”, but it isn’t a change to the United States’ foreign policy on China and Taiwan.

“These sales primarily represent upgrades to existing defense capabilities aimed at converting current legacy systems from analog to digital”, said a USA government official, who asked not to be identified by name, in an email.

The U.S. first began selling arms to Taiwan-under former President Jimmy Carter-in 1979. They included two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles, and was the first sale for four years.

The US does not recognize Taiwan – officially known as the Republic of China – as an independent country, and adheres to the “One China Policy”, which means it does not maintain an official relationship with Taiwan.

China objected strongly, but it did not notably set back U.S.

United States legislation created to provide democratic Taiwan with enough military clout to defend itself against China’s vastly superior armed forces, requires Washington to sell high-end weaponry to Taipei. China has increased diplomatic pressure, cut off its contacts with the island’s government and discouraged travel there by Chinese tourists.