America Approves $1.8 Bn. Arms Sale To Taiwan, Despite Opposition From China – First Arms Package In Four Years Making Beijing Uncomfortable

The United States government approved a huge arms sale to Taiwan, despite opposition from China. The mega-deal exceeding $1.8 billion is reportedly making Beijing extremely uncomfortable.

The Obama administration announced a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan on Wednesday. A seemingly nervous China, has threatened to impose sanctions on companies that are part of the arms sale, which involves a couple of large militarized navy frigates and other military equipment to Taiwan. The threat was officially submitted late Wednesday by Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang to Washington’s second-highest ranking diplomat in Beijing, reported Yahoo. During a high-level meeting with the diplomat, Zeguang made the following statement.

“China resolutely opposes the sale of weapons to Taiwan by the U.S. The arms sales severely harms China’s sovereignty and security interests. In order to safeguard the nation’s interests, the Chinese side has decided to take necessary measures, including the imposition of sanctions against companies participating in the arms sale to Taiwan.”

The Obama administration officially notified Congress about the $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan. The approval was imminent and was expected for quite some time. In fact, it was Congress that had passed legislation last year, approving the sale. The arms sale, which involves sale of specialized military equipment is the first offered by the U.S. to the self-governing island in four years.

As expected, China has been fuming about the arms sale to Taiwan. Beijing has never recognized Taiwan’s sovereignty. Taiwan is still officially viewed as part of Chinese territory in the latter country, a renegade province. In fact, China is open to all options, including military force, to eventually claim Taiwan and force the island country to relinquish its sovereignty. During the formal protest, Zeguang did not mince words about China’s perspective,

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China strongly opposes the US arms sale to Taiwan. The sale goes against international law and basic norms of international relations.”

China has traditionally vehemently opposed any proposed arms sale to the self-governing island and threatened the participating companies with dire consequences. It is apparent that a huge arms sale like this will empower the tiny country, allowing it to stand its ground and seek military assistance if needed, to fend off any attempts by China to forcibly take over Taiwan.

Hence China demanded that the arms sale package approved by the Unites States should be scrapped if America doesn’t intend to spoil relations across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the U.S.

Interestingly, America still values the controversial One-China policy. In fact, Washington too, does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China. However, the administration claims it is committed to offer Taipei the capability to maintain a credible defense, under the Taiwan Relations Act, reported The Christian Science Monitor.

The threats about sanctions has been an old ploy that has been played by China on numerous occasions in the past, but records indicate such tactics do not have any noticeable impact on international trade.

What does the arms sale package to Taiwan include? President Obama’s administration confirmed that the package includes two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and Stinger surface-to-air missiles, reported Yahoo. Apart from the hardware, America will extend support to enhance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the country. The package also includes a weapons system to defend against anti-ship missiles.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are the main ordnance as well as technical contractors involved in the arms sale package. While U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the decision was based solely on Taiwan’s defense needs, the island country confirmed that the new weapons would certainly improve the region’s defense capabilities.

[Photo by Jung Yeon-je / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images]