By Tenzin Dharpo
A variant of the battle proven Abrams tank. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, July 9: US military headquarters Pentagon announced Monday of a proposed sale of arms amounting to $2.2bn to the island nation of Taiwan, drawing China’s ire.
The sale of arms approved by the Trump administration includes 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, related equipment, and some 250 Stinger missiles. The tanks are valued around $2 billion while the portable surface-to-air Stinger missiles are estimated to cost around $223 million.
China's foreign ministry has called on Washington to "immediately cancel" the proposed sale. Spokesman Geng Shuang said the development violates US’s recognition of the so-called ‘One China Policy’ and "grossly interferes in China's internal affairs and undermines China's sovereignty and security interests".
While the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that the sale of the weapons to Taiwan would not change the basic military balance in the region, observers say that the sale will add teeth to Taiwan’s defence capability in the event of a cross-strait military tension.
US is Taiwan’s biggest arms supplier with purchase of arms going as back as 1979 during the Jimmy Carter Presidency. Sales over the years include black hawk helicopters, Osprey class mine hunting ships, frigates, radar systems and a consort of missiles and missiles systems among others. Since 2010, the US has announced more than $15 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.
Taiwan’s quest to acquire tactical military infrastructure such as the Abrams tank were slowed down with budgetary concerns. Despite earlier intent to buy 200 tanks, Taiwan announced in the summer of 2018 its intention to buy 108 of the tanks.
Responding to the US’s announcement, spokesman for Taiwan's president Tsai Ingwen told Reuters
that her nation would "continue to deepen security ties with the US".