The administration of Donald Trump officially approved a massive $8 billion arms sale to Taiwan. According to the State Department, this package includes the delivery of 66 new F-16C/D fighter jets. It added that the U.S. takes the move amid the trade tensions between Beijing and Washington along with several other issues.
Officials of administration and other related representatives of the matter told that the admin approved the deal informally, but few of the officials warned it could still pull back, mentioning ambiguity surrounding the United States relationship with China. The latest weaponry is the most massive United States sale to Taiwan in an inordinate length of time could more erode ties with China as it views the sovereign island as part of China.
Beijing rapidly criticizes the proposed arms sale to Taiwan when U.S. officials announced last week. Spokesman of Chinese Foreign Minister, Hua Chunying said the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan weaken the sovereignty and core interests of China. Hua said that China is firmly against the U.S. move and they have demanded that United States refrain from selling the fighting aircraft and discontinue its military contact with Taiwan.
Furthermore, Hua stated that it must be a sort of worry that the matter of Taiwan directly relates to the sovereignty of China. It also a straight threat to China’s security interests and territorial integrity. She said that if the U.S. does not discontinue the arms sale to Taiwan, then it will have to bear all the consequences.
The reaction of Congress on Current U.S. Arms deal
The latest U.S.-Taiwan arms deal received strong bilateral support from Congress, including from the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Democratic chairman. Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas and Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel of New York said in a joint statement that the F-16s sale to Taiwan sends a solid message about the United States commitment to democracy and security in the Indo-Pacific.
They added that as China takes a move of military aggression in the region, they need to do any action to support their friends all over the world. Moreover, they said that they have strong confidence that it will help on a bicameral and bipartisan basis.
The fighter aircraft are seen as mainly irritating to China as they want to improve the ability of Taipei to potentially carry on the military operations in the Taiwan Strait, the waterway that divides China from Taiwan. Whereas, as part of forty years old Taiwan Relations Act, the United States long delivering arms to Taiwan. On the other side, Beijing repeatedly condemns those sales and protest them by saying that it is violating the sovereignty of China instead that the Communist Party of China has never governed the island.
The administration of Trump approved selling of 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks along with portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Taiwan during the last month, and it was worth about $2.2 billion. Taiwan requested both these equipment types that are capable of strengthening its defense as it usually faces growing pressure from China in the form of ramped-up armed drills.
In May, Pentagon warned in a report that traditional military advantages of Taiwan over China in the cross-strait clash were eroding in the shape of military modernization efforts of China.