U.S. to sell $2bn in weapons to Taiwan, testing China
June 6, 2019 -- The U.S. plans to sell more than $2 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, a move that has angered China and is likely to escalate the growing trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
Taiwan Defense Ministry said it has submitted a letter of request for 108 cutting-edge M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 TOW anti-armor missiles, 409 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 250 Stinger man-portable air defense systems.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that China firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
China considers self-governing Taiwan part of its territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary.
The U.S. is the main supplier of weapons to Taiwan, and earlier reports have said Taiwan is also seeking 66 F-16 fighter jets in the most advanced "V'' configuration.
The M1 Abrams would mark a significant upgrade from the aging tanks Taiwan's army now uses, while the TOW and Javelin systems would upgrade Taiwan's ability to repulse an attempt by China to land tanks and troops from across the 160km-wide Taiwan Strait.
The Stingers meanwhile could help boost Taiwan's defenses against China's more than 1,000 advanced fighter aircraft and 1,500 missiles pointing at the island.
Taiwan, which split from China amid civil war in 1949, has had no formal diplomatic ties with the U.S. since Washington recognized Beijing in 1979.
However, U.S. law requires it to take threats to the island seriously and to "make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."