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Biden asks Congress to approve $1 billion arms deal with Taiwan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-9 Sidewinder is a supersonic, short-range air-to-air missile developed by the US Navy.

The administration of US President Joe Biden asked Congress to approve more than $1 billion in arms sales to Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), despite China’s objections.

The Chinese government has said that any military contact with the self-ruled island violates the "one China" principle.

The US State Department announced on Friday that it approved three separate proposed arms sales for Taiwan, and Congress has been notified of them.

If Congress approves the plan, the three sales will send contractor logistics support for Taiwan’s Surveillance Radar Program, up to 60 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II missiles and related equipment and up to 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Tactical Missiles and equipment.

A US Department of State spokesperson said US weaponry and sustainment to Taiwan is vital to the island’s security.

“These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the spokesperson said.

Biden has proposed the sale of a $1.1 billion weapons package to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles.

The new package would include 60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles for US$355 million, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles for US$85.6 million, and an extension of a surveillance radar contract worth US$655.4 million, according to a report in Politico.

The Sidewinder missiles will arm Taipei's US-made F-16 fighter jets, the report noted, citing sources.

China has strongly condemned the US government’s new plan to export arms.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman of the Chinese embassy in Washington, said the US must “immediately stop” selling weapons to the self-ruled island.

“The US side needs to immediately stop arms sales to and military contact with Taiwan, stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait, and follow through on the US government statement of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence,” the Chinese diplomat stressed.

The development comes amid heightened tensions between the two arch-rivals after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the self-ruled island earlier this month.

The visit, which Beijing had sternly warned against, prompted it to hold a series of military drills around Taiwan in a show of military might against repetitive US provocations.

Last week, another US lawmaker, Senator Marsha Blackburn, arrived in the self-ruled island, on the third visit by a US dignitary in less than a month, defying pressure from Beijing to halt the trips.

The State Department spokesperson said on Friday the department called on China to discontinue its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and engage in “meaningful dialogue” with the island.

“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” the spokesperson said.

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