US greenlights $95 million-worth arms deal with Taiwan

Washington is expected to provide Taiwan with training and equipment to support its Patriot air defense systems

The US State Department has greenlit a potential deal that would see the US providing Taiwan with equipment and relevant training to support its Patriot air defense systems, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency told the media on Wednesday.

According to the Pentagon, the total value of the deal might amount to up to $95 million. “This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the Pentagon said in a notification to the US Congress.

The deal would also help Taiwan “sustain its missile density and ensure readiness for air operations,” as well as to successfully deter “regional threats,” the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has said it expects the deal to “become effective” within a month.

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The statements made by the US officials, however, do not indicate that the contract had been signed and the negotiations on the deal had come to an end, Reuters reports. According to the Pentagon, the US aerospace and defense corporation, Raytheon, would become the prime contractor if the deal is finalized.

It is the third US arms sale to Taiwan announced since President Joe Biden took office. The potential deal comes amid heightened tensions in the Pacific as the US and its regional allies fear that China, which sees Taiwan as an inalienable part of its sovereign territory, might take some action to reunify Taiwan and mainland China, including “by force.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet commander, Admiral Samuel Paparo, warned that “the window of a potential unification by force” is “highly unpredictable.” Beijing repeatedly stated earlier that peaceful reunification would be a more preferable option for China, but it would not hesitate to use force if the island cut ties with it.

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Taiwan itself has used the news about the deal to send a warning to Beijing. “In the face of China’s continuing military expansion and provocation, Taiwan must fully demonstrate its strong determination to defend itself,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Republic of China (ROC) was established in Taiwan after a civil war in the mainland in 1949. The island has been self-governed since then, but never formally declared independence from China. Now, the island has a population of 25 million.

The US recognized Beijing as the only legitimate authority in China in 1979. Yet, Washington also maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan and is one of its major arms suppliers.

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