Washington has given a green light to supply Taiwan with $2.2bn worth of US military tech, including tanks and surface-to-air missiles, in violation of the One China principle that views the island as part of the mainland.
“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to TECRO for the M1A2T Abrams Tanks and related equipment and support Stinger missiles and related equipment and support for an estimated cost of $2 billion,” the Pentagon announced on Monday.
The purchase, which still needs to be approved by Congress, includes 108 units of M1A2T Abrams Tanks, which Taipei plans to use against China if it tries to reclaim sovereignty over the island. The Pentagon maintains that the sale will not influence the “basic military balance” in the region and will merely “enhance” Taiwan’s ability “to meet current and future regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense.”
Beijing, however, made clear that it will battle any outside meddling and attempts to split Taiwan from mainland China, stressing that the country will not rule out the use of force to do so.
“Any interference in the Taiwan question is doomed to failure,” China’s defense minister General Wei Fenghe said at the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore last month. “No attempts to split China will succeed.”
“China firmly, consistently and unequivocally opposes US arms sales to Taiwan,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a separate statement last month, warning Washington against inflicting “serious damage to bilateral relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have deteriorated since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a member of the island’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, took office in May 2016. China suspects the leader to be seeking formal independence with support from Washington.