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Biden administration proposes $750 million arms sale to Taiwan in a move likely to anger Beijing

Biden administrationBiden administration proposes $750 million arms sale to Taiwan in a move likely to anger Beijing

The administration announced the proposed sale on Wednesday, according to a State Department spokesperson, two Congressional sources and a Defense Security Cooperation Agency notification. The agreement includes 40 M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzer systems and related equipment.

“If successful, this proposed sale will contribute to the modernization of Taiwan’s howitzer fleet, strengthening its self-defense capabilities to face current and future threats,” the spokesperson said.

One of the Congressional sources told CNN that Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez had previously authorized the sale as part of the informal review process – a common practice in which the Foreign Relations Committees of the House and Senate are notified of planned sales, allowing committee leadership to raise concerns, give their opinion or take the place.

The source said Menendez saw it as “another statement of the Biden administration’s serious intention to strategize in the Indo-Pacific and its commitment to stand alongside our ally, Taiwan.”

The United States has a long history of supplying the island with arms under the decades-old Taiwan Relations Act, and there is bipartisan support for supplying arms to Taiwan. Last October, the Trump administration informed Congress of a proposed $ 1.8 billion advanced weapons systems sale to Taiwan, and the administration had already approved several large arms sales to Taiwan from ‘worth over $ 13 billion, including dozens of F-16 fighter jets, M1A2T Abrams tanks, portable Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and MK-48 Mod6 torpedoes.

Beijing has lambasted the sales, calling them a violation of China’s sovereignty. The country’s communist government considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, although the two have been governed separately since the end of a bloody civil war in 1949.

In a statement Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was “strongly opposed” to the sales proposed by the Biden administration and had filed “solemn representations” to the United States.

“[The proposed weapons sale] sends false signals to separatist forces of “Taiwan independence” and seriously undermines Sino-US relations as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, “the statement said.” China will take resolutely take the appropriate and necessary countermeasures as the situation evolves. ”

New directives

In April, President Joe Biden sent an unofficial delegation to Taiwan in support of the island, according to a senior administration official and a State Department spokesperson.

The State Department also announced in April that the agency had “issued new guidelines for the U.S. government’s interaction with its Taiwanese counterparts to encourage U.S. government engagement with Taiwan that reflects our deepening of our relationship. unofficial relationship “.

At the time, State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “The guidelines underscore that Taiwan is a vibrant democracy and an important economic and security partner who is also a force for good within the country. International community.

“These new directives liberalize the directives on contacts with Taiwan, in accordance with our unofficial relations, and clarify throughout the executive the effective implementation of our policy of” one China “, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Joint Releases and the Six Assurances, ”Price said.

Shortly before stepping down in January, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States was lifting decades-old restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials.

CNN’s Beijing office contributed reporting.

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