U.S.-Chinese tensions over the status of the island have led to the Biden administration’s announcement on Friday of a more than $1 billion arms sale to Taiwan.
Air-to-sea Harpoon missiles will cost $355 million, while air-to-air Sidewinder missiles will cost $85 million, according to the State Department’s breakdown of the $1.09 billion deal.
However, a $655 million logistics support package for Taiwan’s monitoring radar program that issues air defense warnings constitutes the bulk of the contract. China has increased military training near Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province, highlighting the importance of early warning air defense systems.
The U.S. Department of State has deemed the purchase of this weaponry crucial to Taiwan’s capacity to “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” Friday evening was when the government informed Congress about the deal.
The government has maintained these accords are consistent with the one-China policy of the United States. Beijing was also encouraged to “stop its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in real dialogue with Taiwan.”
Late on Friday, White House senior director for China and Taiwan Laura Rosenberger said, “We’re providing Taiwan with what it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities as China continues to increase pressure on Taiwan, including through heightened military air and maritime presence around Taiwan.”
Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last month, tensions between the United States and China over the self-governed island have flared. At least two more members of Congress and many governors from U.S. states have visited Taipei since Pelosi’s tour, all of which China has criticized.
On Thursday, the tensions were highlighted by an incident in which Taiwan’s military claimed to have shot down a drone that had been hovering above one of Taiwan’s island outposts just off China’s coast. A day earlier, Taiwan claimed to have warned drones away from three islands it occupies near the Chinese port city of Xiamen.
China considers Taiwan to be part of China proper and has stated that it will use force to conquer the island. After a bloody civil war in 1949, relations between the two sides soured and remain icy to this day. Since Tsai Ing-2016 wen’s election as president of Taiwan, China has severed even the most casual of ties with the self-rule-leaning island.
The government under Tsai has advocated for a 12.9% increase in the annual budget of its Defense Ministry to fund increased anti-drone defenses. If this were to happen, defense spending would increase by 47.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.6 billion), bringing the grand total to 415.1 billion NTD ($13.8 billion).
Last month, the United States called Chinese drills a “extreme overreaction,” and in response, it sent two guided missile cruisers across the Taiwan Strait, an area China claims as its own territory.