US approves $1 billion in new arms sales to Taiwan

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has approved the sale of more than a billion dollars worth of advanced weaponry for Taiwan in a move that will enrage China and further exacerbate tensions between Washington and Beijing that have are already heated over issues such as trade, Tibet, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

The State Department announced Wednesday it had greenlighted the sale of 135 precision land attack missiles, associated equipment and training to Taiwan to improve its defense capabilities. The package is worth just over a billion dollars, it said in a statement. The missiles are made by Boeing.

“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” it said in a statement. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability” as well as military balance and economic progress in the region.

“The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to increase their warfighting effectiveness as needed, which can counter or deter aggressions by demonstrated precision against surface targets,” it said.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has reacted furiously to previous U.S. arms sales to the island. The Trump administration has stepped up military and diplomatic support for Taiwan in recent months, including offering significant backing for its efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

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