WASHINGTON: The US State Department has appr­oved a potential $1.1 billion sale of military equipment to Taiwan, including 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, with China threatening to take counter measures.

The Pentagon announced the package on Friday in the wake of China’s aggressive military drills around Taiwan following a visit to the island last month by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to travel to Taipei in years.

The sale includes Side­winder missiles, which can be used for air-to-air and surface-attack missions, at a cost of some $85.6 million, Har­poon anti-ship missiles at an estimated $355 million cost and support for Taiwan’s surveillance radar programme for an estimated $665.4 million, the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said.

Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said in a statement the possible arms sale “severely jeopardises Chin­a-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” “China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation,” he said.

President Joe Biden’s adm­i­n­istration said the package has been under consideration for some time and was developed in consultation with Taiwan and US lawmakers.

“As the PRC continues to increase pressure on Taiwan including through heightened military air and maritime presence around Tai­wan and engages in attempts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, were providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities,” Laura Rosenberger, White House senior director for China and Taiwan, said in a statement.

The Biden administration was planning new equipment for Taiwan but that the equipment would sustain Taiwan’s current military systems and fulfill existing orders, not offer new capabilities, despite the heightened tensions that followed Pelosi’s visit.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2022

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