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Biden administration readies $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan

People's Liberation Army soldiers at Shenyang training base in China, March 24, 2007. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, U.S. Air Force)

The Biden administration is preparing to sell $1.1 billion in missiles and radar support to Taiwan, according to an official familiar with the matter.

The package would include as much as $650 million in continued support for a surveillance radar sold earlier, about $90 million for roughly 100 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles as well as about 60 additional anti-ship Harpoon missiles, the official said. Both weapons have been sold to Taiwan previously.

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The State Department informally notified Congress of the sale late Monday. Even though it offers Taiwan no new military capability, the move will anger China, which has become more aggressive in its military posture against the island.

Politico reported on the planned arms sale earlier Monday.

The notification marks the beginning of several weeks of staff consultations that will result in a formal arms-sale proposal from the State Department. But support for Taiwan is running high among both Republicans and Democrats, meaning that the package will likely face little resistance from Congress.

A separate person familiar with the matter said there have been several conversations between the administration and Congress about arms sales to Taiwan.

A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to respond in detail and said only that the U.S. would continue fulfilling its responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act to support Taiwan’s self-defense. A State Department spokesperson said, as a matter of policy, that the department does not publicly comment or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official in a quarter century to visit Taiwan, prompting Beijing afterward to conduct military drills and fire missiles over the island for the first time.

Chinese warplanes have breached the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait on a near-daily basis since Pelosi’s visit.

Since then, Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, have also made high-profile trips there.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has welcomed the visits from the U.S. lawmakers as an “active show of strong support of the U.S. Congress,” adding they had “reinforced Taiwan’s determination to defend itself.”

Taiwan last week proposed raising its total spending on the military by almost 14% next year

A year ago, the Biden administration approved its first arms sale to the territory.


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