In the midst of rising tensions with China, the US has approved a $100 million support contract with Taiwan aimed at bolstering the island’s missile defense systems.
According to the Pentagon, the funds will be used to sustain, maintain, and improve the self-ruled island’s Patriot missile defense system.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement that it had delivered the required certification notifying Congress following State Department approval for the sale, which had been requested by Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington.
Upgrades to the Patriot Air Defense System would “help improve the recipient’s security and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region,” according to a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a credible defensive capability,” according to the agency.
Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province, has not ruled out the use of force to unite the island with the mainland, and has increased fighter jet flights near Taiwan in recent months.
“Arms sales to Taiwan seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and seriously damage China-US relations, as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
The agreement is intended to assist Taiwan in maintaining its existing air defense missiles as well as advanced American-made Patriot missiles that Taiwan is acquiring.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense thanked the US for approving the agreement in a tweet.
The US decision was “highly welcomed” by Taiwan’s foreign ministry.
“In the face of China’s continued military expansion and provocative actions, our country will maintain its national security with a solid defense and continue to deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States,” the statement said.
However, Washington has remained ambiguous on its responsibility to physically assist Taipei as China’s pressure campaign has become more provocative, with repeated missions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The US must demonstrate its commitment to Taiwan’s defense by providing additional defensive capabilities that will make Taiwan a more difficult problem for China and their expansionist ambitions.
NYCFA believes that the US should defend our values, and that they are an essential partner in ensuring human rights and freedoms, protecting and advancing democracies, and defending international norms that promote peace and prosperity for all.