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US Moves Forward with Arms Sales to Taiwan, Infuriating China

October 13, 2020, 10.17 PM

Congressional backing for Taiwan

The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Lawmakers, who are generally wary of what they perceive as Chinese aggression and supportive of Taiwan, were not expected to object to the Taiwan sales.

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said it would comment only when there was formal notification of any arms sale.

Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Joanne Ou said the government had not yet been formally notified.

"China continues to use military provocation to undermine cross-strait and regional stability, highlighting the importance of Taiwan's strengthening of self-defense capabilities," Ou said.

Read also: Indonesian Maritime Forces Intercept China Coast Guard Vessel in Natuna Sea

News that new arms sales to Taiwan were moving forward came after senior US officials last week repeated calls for Taiwan to spend more on its own defense and to carry out military reforms to make clear to China the risks of attempting to invade.

It comes at a time when China has significantly stepped up military activity near Taiwan and as US-China relations have plunged to the lowest point in decades as Election Day nears.

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, have both sought to appear tough in their approach to Beijing.

Read also: Negative Views of China Soar in Advanced Economies: Survey

Speaking on Wednesday, the US National Security Adviser, Robert O'Brien, warned against any attempt to retake Taiwan by force, saying amphibious landings were notoriously difficult and there was a lot of ambiguity about how the United States would respond.

The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, but it has not made clear whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack, something that would likely lead to a much broader conflict with Beijing.

(Writers: David Brunnstrom, Patricia Zengerle, Mike Stone | Editors: Franklin Paul, Matthew Lewis, Jane Wardell)


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