GLOBAL DEFENSE MARKET
U.S.-Taiwan Weapon Sales Agreement Angers China
A new arms deal to Taiwan threatens to increase tensions between Washington and Beijing.
The agreement, which is worth around $1.4 billion, includes the sale of radar, upgrades to electronic weapon suites, advanced torpedoes and missiles to Taipei. Announced in late June, it is the first such deal to Taiwan under the Trump administration.
The Chinese government — which considers Taiwan to be a renegade province — quickly condemned the agreement.
“China is firmly opposed to the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan,” the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “China’s stance is clear and firm. The U.S. nevertheless made the wrong decision to … [sell] arms to Taiwan in disregard of China’s strong representations.”
Under its “One China” policy, the United States does not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent nation.
According to the Chinese Embassy, the arms deal undermines a consensus reached by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during talks at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this year.
Patrick Cronin, senior director at the Center for a New American Security’s
Asia-Pacific Security program, said the deal is consistent with past U.S. presidents’ efforts to sell Taiwan defensive arms.
“It’s intended to slow down the deterioration of the military balance across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. The “mainland is getting the upper hand with respect to the cross-strait military balance and the United States has at least one hand tied behind its back with respect to what it can sell Taiwan.”
The arms deal gives Taiwan a credible, defensive means of stopping Chinese intervention and helps it retain some electronic and cyber resiliency, he said.
“If China wants to use this arms sales package as a provocation they will certainly do so, but there is nothing extraordinary about this arms sales package that should give them that justification,” Cronin said. “It will be more because China decides, ‘We have to show, and we are now able to show, just how serious we are about claiming Taiwan as our runaway province.’”
While the deal is modest, there is the potential that China may escalate tensions with Taiwan over it, he said. “Let’s watch their sea and air patrols and what kind of pressure they put on Taiwan. Taiwan is feeling very beleaguered right now already.”
Taipei has had trouble jump-starting its economy and it is possible Beijing may try to squeeze it even more, he noted.