The reaction was not long in coming. China demanded, on Friday September 2, from the United States that they renounce the new arms sale to Taiwan, announced a few hours earlier, for an amount of 1.1 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros ).
While tensions are already at their highest with Beijing, which considers the island of Taiwan as part of its territory, Washington has approved the sale to Taipei for 355 million dollars of 60 Harpoon missiles, capable of sinking warships , 100 Sidewinder short-range missiles (85.6 million), capable of intercepting missiles or drones, and a maintenance contract for Taiwan’s radar system valued at 665 million dollars, the Department of Defense said. state in a press release.
This is the biggest US arms sale for Taiwan since Joe Biden took over as president in January 2021.
Beijing immediately declared itself “strongly opposed” to these transactions, through the spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu. China calls on the United States to “revoke immediately” arms sales to Taiwan, “lest they further affect relations with the United States, as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”the spokesperson said in a statement.
“China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary countermeasures in view of the situation”he added.
A month after Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit
This new arms sale comes a month after a visit to Taiwan by Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, which provoked the fury of Beijing. China then launched the most important military maneuvers in its history around the island.
These transactions “serve the economic and national security interests of the United States by supporting the efforts [de Taïwan] to modernize its armed forces”underlined the American diplomacy via a spokesperson.
The announcement comes a day after Taiwanese forces shot down an unidentified commercial drone, part of a sudden series of incursions that have caused confusion on the island after Beijing’s previous show of force, which said firing ballistic missiles over the capital, Taipei.
To materialize, these sales must receive the approval of Congress, which is almost certain, military support for Taiwan enjoying broad support among elected officials on both sides. According to a State Department spokesperson, the United States has informed Congress of more than $35 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010.
These arms sales are “essential to Taiwan’s security and we will continue to work with the defense industry to support this goal”added the spokesman for the State Department. “We call on Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan and instead engage in dialogue” with Taipei, he continued. “The United States continues to support a peaceful resolution of the matter, in accordance with the wishes and in the interest of the Taiwanese people”he concluded.
On the Taipei side, “This arms sale will not only help our soldiers fight coercion in the gray zone, it will also strengthen the island’s early warning capabilities against long-range ballistic missiles”said Chang Tun-han, the spokesman for the Taiwanese presidency, in a statement of thanks.
Maintain the self-defense capacity of the island
Ahead of the controversial visit to Taiwan by Mme Pelosi, number three in the United States and the most senior American official to visit the island in decades, Joe Biden’s entourage had quietly argued to China that Mme Pelosi did not represent administration policy, as Congress was a separate branch of government.
The green light for arms sales, on the other hand, clearly comes from the Biden administration, even if it is in line with the policy applied since 1979, when Washington recognized Beijing while agreeing to maintain the capacity to Taiwan self-defense.
During a trip to Tokyo in May, Mr Biden appeared to break with decades of American policy by declaring that the United States would directly defend Taiwan if attacked. But his collaborators then went back on his remarks to maintain the deliberately vague concept of the“strategic ambiguity”.
China considers Taiwan, with a population of around 23 million, to be one of its provinces, which it has yet to successfully reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War, in 1949.