New US arms sale to Taiwan approved

The Biden administration approved a $360 million weapons sale to Taiwan on Tuesday, the State Department announced.

The announcement means the U.S. will be sending the island hundreds of armed drones, missile equipment and related support material, The Associated Press reported.

The announcement comes at a time of heightened tension between Taiwan and China, which likely will condemn the sale.

While the U.S. is seen as a major ally to Taiwan, it does not formally recognize the island as a separate state from the mainland. China believes the land is part of its territory and has vowed it would consolidate by using force if necessary.

The sale includes 291 Altius-600M systems, which are unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, that have warheads. It also includes 720 Switchblade drones, known as “extended-range loitering munitions,” the AP reported.

The State Department said the sale serves U.S. interests by “supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”

The sale will “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region,” the department said, per the AP.

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te thanked the U.S. for the sale.

China began new military exercises around Taiwan late last month, scrambling jets and sending ships out to patrol. Beijing has criticized Lai, who campaigned on having closer relations with the United States. A Chinese spokesperson said the drills were to “strongly punish” the “separatist forces.”

Taiwan said it hopes China will stop its military operations.

“It is hoped that the People’s Liberation Army will stop its oppressive military operations around Taiwan and jointly contribute to regional stability,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.

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