The United States will continue to provide defensive weapons to Taiwan despite protests by Beijing over the recent approval by Washington of the sale of weapons systems to Taipei, a U.S. government spokesman said
U.S. Department of State spokesperson Vedant Patel said there was “no reason for China to react” to U.S. approval of an arms package worth US$1.1 billion last week as the systems were for defensive purposes.
“The United States has been providing defensive capabilities to Taiwan for decades, which is in line with our longstanding commitments under not just the Taiwan Relations Act, but it’s also consistent with our ‘one China’ policy,” he said at a Tuesday press briefing.
“In line with that policy, the U.S. will continue to meet Taiwan’s defense needs. This package was in the works for some time precisely because we expected it would be needed as China increased its pressure on Taiwan,” he said.
“We have and we will continue to be responsible, steady, and resolute and keep our lines of communication open with Beijing, but also continue to support Taiwan…in ways that are consistent with our policy.”
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the approved sale includes 60 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II missiles, four ATM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II exercise missiles, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical missiles, and a surveillance radar contract extension.
White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said the package reflected “our assessment of Taiwan’s self-defense needs in a modern sense, and the threat that they’re under, and the threat that’s being posed by the PRC.”
“Watching what the PRC did during and in the wake of Speaker Pelosi’s visit only reinforces our view that these items will obviously help Taiwan better defend itself,” he said, referring to China’s week-long military drills around Taiwan following Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in early August.
● U.S. announces US$1.1 billion missiles sales, logistics support for Taiwan
After Washington announced the US$1.1 billion arms package for Taiwan on Sept. 2, China said it would “resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation,” according to a tweet by Liu Pengyu, a spokesman at China’s embassy in the U.S.
In a series of tweets, Liu reiterated Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China’s territory and that continuous arm sales by the U.S. interfered with China’s internal affairs and undermined its sovereignty and security.
“It sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces, and severely jeopardizes China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he tweeted.
The biggest expense in the arms package is a surveillance radar contract extension estimated as costing US$655.4 million.
A military source told CNA Saturday that it was aimed at ensuring the performance of Leshan Radar Station in Hsinchu County, which played an important role in detecting the 11 ballistic missiles fired by China into waters near Taiwan in early August.
However, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment on whether the package would involve upgrades to the station’s surveillance capabilities.