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US approves $95 million in missile defense support for Taiwan

The file photo of an American missile battery

The United States has approved the sale of up to $95 million worth of training and equipment to support Chinese Taipei's Patriot missile defense system, the Pentagon says, amid heightened tensions between China and the self-ruled island.

"The proposed sale will help to sustain (Taiwan’s) missile density and ensure readiness for air operations," the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Taipei will use the proposed training and equipment as a "deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense," it added.

Chinese Taipei's foreign ministry has welcomed the arms deal, saying the sales would help protect the self-governed island against Beijing's "continuing military expansion and provocation."

"In the face of China's continuing military expansion and provocation, Taiwan must fully demonstrate its strong determination to defend itself," the ministry said in a statement, stressing that Taipei would continue to strengthen its "self-defense and asymmetric combat capabilities."

According to Taipei's Defense Ministry, the planned deal is expected to take effect in one month.

The latest arms sale is the third approved under US President Joe Biden, and follows a similar approval in February of equipment and services to boost Taipei's Patriot missile defense systems.

The first major arms sale to Taipei under Biden was last August, which saw the approval of 40 Howitzer artillery systems.

Last year, the US also sold arms to Chinese Taipei that included drones and coastal missile defenses aimed at upgrading the island’s capabilities against mainland China.

Chinese Taipei falls under China’s sovereignty, and under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries — the US included — recognize that sovereignty. But, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has recently ramped up diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei. Washington is also the island’s largest weapon supplier.

Tensions between Chinese Taipei and China have been at their highest in decades. China has been flying fighter jets close to Chinese Taipei while the US has reportedly had troops deployed in the territory for the past year for training purposes.

China has in the past said that its military exercises near Chinese Taipei are a “solemn warning” to secessionist factions in the self-ruled island and their foreign backers, particularly the United States.

China has also warned Taipei against playing with fire, saying “war may be triggered at any time.”

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