Washington unveils major arms deal with Taiwan — RT World News

Weapons will improve island’s ‘asymmetric combat capabilities’, Taipei says

The US State Department has approved the sale of a batch of anti-tank minelaying systems to Taiwan for nearly $200 million. The move comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Taipei.

In a tweet Thursday, the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said it “Authorizes Foreign Military Sales Project for Taiwan to Purchase Volcano Anti-Tank Systems Worth Up To $180 Million.”

While the deal is supposed to go through the congressional notification process, in practice, those notifications aren’t usually made unless lawmakers have already given the executive an informal green light.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed the deal, adding that it expects it to come into effect within a month.

The ministry noted that the « The United States agreed to sell items with high maneuverability and rapid mine-laying efficiency », allowing the island’s army to « respond quickly to enemy threats » and sound improvement « asymmetrical combat capabilities ».

He also thanked the United States for the endorsement, adding that « frequent military operations » around Taiwan led by China have « posed a serious military threat to our country ».

M136 Volcanoes were developed in the 1980s by the US military and can be mounted on ground vehicles or helicopters, allowing the military to quickly disperse landmines over large areas.

The deal comes at a time of heightened tensions between Taipei and Beijing. On Tuesday, Tsai Ing-wen, the president of the self-governing island, announced the extension of compulsory military service from four months to one year, citing the « Chinese threat ».

Beijing has denounced the move, warning that it will only lead to the Taiwanese people being used as « Cannon fodder. »

The back-and-forth comes after Taiwan claimed earlier this week that it had spotted more than 70 Chinese military planes and drones, as well as several warships, near the island.

Beijing described the activity as « strike drills » in response to the « The Current Escalation and Provocation Between the United States and Taiwan. » The exercises took place several days after the United States authorized $10 billion in security aid for Taiwan as part of its military budget.

Beijing considers Taiwan a sovereign Chinese territory under its One China policy. Since 1949, the island has been ruled by nationalists who fled the mainland with the help of the United States after losing the Chinese Civil War to the Communists.

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