South China Sea: US announces $280million Taiwan arms sale amid ‘daily military threats’

China-Taiwan tensions at a point 'not seen in years' says expert

President Tsai Ing-wen told a security forum in Taipei the South China Sea has become “increasingly militarised”. The Trump administration has provided 11 arms sale packages in total, the most recent being a Field Information Communications System (FICS).

In a statement on Monday, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said the sale is “designed to provide mobile and secure communications” and help Taiwan “modernize its military communication’s capability”.

President Tsai, as reported by Reuters, said: “Authoritarian forces consistently attempt to violate the existing norms-based order.

“Taiwan has been at the receiving end of such military threats on a daily basis.”

The US has agreed around $5billion dollars in arms sales to Taiwan in 2020, repeatedly angering China.

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In October, the US approved a $1.8bn (£1.3bn) weapons sale to Taiwan, including rocket launchers, sensors and artillery.

China and Taiwan were divided in the 1940s during a civil war.

Taiwan is claimed by China and Beijing refuses to rule out the use of force to take back the island.

On Tuesday, Cha’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily briefing: “China will take legitimate and necessary reactions to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security interests.

“China urges the United States to stay committed to the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, stop arms sales to and military contacts with the Taiwan region, and immediately cancel its arms sale plans to avoid further damaging China-U.S. relations and cross-Strait peace and stability.”

Ms Hua made China’s stance on Taiwan clear, adding that it “is not a country”.

She said: “Taiwan authorities now thank the U.S. side for selling it arms and strengthening military ties.

“I hope they will first of all figure it out whether the U.S. side is helping them or hurting them?”

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Kurt Campbell, a former US diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, also spoke at the Indo-Pacific forum in Taipei.

He said: “There is a broad group of people across the political aisle that understand the profound strategic significance and our strategic interests in maintaining a strong relationship with Taiwan.”

Taiwan has also started building eight new combat submarines, due to enter service in late-2024.

President Tsai said: “We’re more determined than ever to continue developing our self-defense industries & safeguard our sovereignty and democracy.”

China’s has been angered further in recent months by US officials visiting the island.

Navy Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, the top military intelligence official at US Indo-Pacific command, is said to have visited last month.

Keith Krach, senior US official figure for economic growth, energy and the environment, visited Taiwan in September, as did US health secretary Alex Azar in August.

Robert O’Brien, the US national security adviser, said last month: “I can’t imagine anything that will cause a greater backlash against China from the entire world if they attempted to use military force to coerce Taiwan.”

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