Taiwan says US weapons sales show strategic importance in region

China | 22 Oct 2020 4:56 pm

Taiwan welcomed the U.S. State Department's latest approval of arms sales involving three batches of weapons systems and said it believes the deals will strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities.

"The foreign ministry received formal notice from the U.S. government regarding the arms sales," ministry spokesman Joanne Ou said during a regular press briefing, CNA reports.

Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded countries on maintaining peace and prosperity in the region, she said.

According to Ou, this would be the 8th round of arms sales by the U.S. government to Taiwan under President Donald Trump.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) officially notified the U.S. Congress of the possible deals – worth a total of US$1.81 billion – on Wednesday after they were approved by the State Department, according to press releases published by the DSCA on its website.

In a press statement, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang expressed appreciation to the U.S. government for helping Taiwan strengthen its defense capabilities in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances.

The TRA, a U.S. domestic law that defines Washington's substantial relations with Taipei, stipulates that the U.S. will make available to Taiwan defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.

On the other hand, the Six Assurances, made by then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to Taiwan in 1982, pledges not to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan and not to consult with China on arms sales to Taiwan.

Chang said the arms deals will help Taiwan build a formidable defense force and upgrade its asymmetric warfare capabilities.

He added that aside from foreign arms procurements, Taiwan will continue to push for the development of indigenous weapons systems.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), for its part, said in a separate statement that the possible deals showed U.S. recognition of Taiwan's strategic importance in the region and its willingness to help Taiwan improve its overall defense capabilities.

The MND said the sales are expected to take effect one month after the U.S. Congress is notified.

While the deals are awaiting a green light from the U.S. Congress, all Taiwan's military procurements will also need Legislative approval before relevant budgets can be allocated, the MND said.

The sales approval came at a time when China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, is continuing to increase its military activities around Taiwan, such as live-fire drills and military maneuvers.

In October alone, nearly 20 Chinese military planes have entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) to date, including one unmanned aerial vehicle.

In one of the biggest recent shows of force near Taiwan, as many as 19 Chinese military aircraft, including J-16 multirole strike fighters, either crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait or entered Taiwan's southwest ADIZ on September 19.

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