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China threatens US after Biden approves his 1st US arms sale to Taiwan

Multiple M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers. (U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Nicole R. Paese/Released)
August 05, 2021

On Wednesday, the U.S. announced its approval for the first arms sale to Taiwan under President Joe Biden, which would include 40 new mobile artillery vehicles for the island. China responded with threats of “counter-measures” against the U.S.

On Thursday, a press account for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted, “#Taiwan is an inalienable part of the #Chinese territory. #US arms sale to Taiwan severely violates the one-China principle&the three China-US joint communiques. China will take legitimate&necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation.”

In a further statement posted on China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the agency said the arms sale “runs counter to international law and basic principles in international relations, and violates the one-China principle and provisions of the three China-US joint communiques,” in which the U.S. has acknowledged China’s position of a territorial claim over Taiwan.

The Chinese foreign ministry further said the U.S. arms sale “sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces, and severely jeopardizes China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China is firmly opposed to this and has lodged solemn representations with the US side.”

While the U.S. has upheld the “One-China Policy” since 1979, in 2018 the U.S. State Department said the U.S. position towards Taiwan is that, “The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship. The 1979 U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communique switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the Joint Communique, the United States recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, acknowledging the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. The Joint Communique also stated that the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.”

On Wednesday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees U.S. arms sales to foreign countries and entities, announced the U.S. State Department had given preliminary approval to transfer arms to Taiwan. The potential U.S. arms would mainly cover the transfer of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems and 20 ammunition support vehicles and an artillery fire support command and control system.

The proposed U.S. arms sale would also include five M88A2 Hercules vehicles, five .50 cal machine guns and mounting systems and 1,698 multi-option Precision Guidance Kits (PGKs) which are used to guide artillery shells to their targets. The sale would also include M239 vehicle-mounted smoke grenade launchers, nighttime viewing systems for armored vehicles and GPS devices. The total proposed arms sale is valued at $750 million.

The proposed arms sale would be the first U.S. arms transfer to Taiwan since Biden took office. In December, the U.S. approved $280 million in sales of Field Information Communications Systems (FICS) and related equipment. In November, the U.S. approved $600 million in sales of four “Weapons-Ready” MQ-9B drones.

In October, the U.S. also approved several separate sales of missile systems to Taiwan, including 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles, together valuing about $2.8 billion in value. Those October missile sales represent about $3.8 billion in arms. In retaliation, China sanctioned the U.S. arms manufacturers whose products were included in the October missile sales.