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US approves more arms sales to Taiwan, including missiles for F-16 jets

Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets fly in close formation during National Day celebrations in front of the presidential building in Taipei, Taiwan, Oct. 10, 2021. (AP photo)

The United States has approved more arms sales to Taiwan, including hundreds of missiles for F-16 fighter jets, in another move that drew strong objections from Beijing.

The State Department said in a statement Wednesday night that it had approved the arms sales, including $619 million worth of missiles for the self-governing island's fleet of F-16 jets as well as equipment to support those missiles. 

The new package includes AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles, as well as air-to-air missiles and launchers. 

Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement that “the Air Force has full combat capabilities in the two types of missiles that the United States agreed to sell this time,” adding that the new package of weapons “also helps us stock weapons and boost our defensive resilience.”

The US continues to sell weapons to Taiwan in defiance of China, which has sovereignty over the island. Almost all world countries, including the United States, recognize that sovereignty under the One China policy.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday it was "firmly" opposed to the new move, calling on  the United States to stop arms sales to and military contacts with Taiwan.

Beijing frequently sends military aircraft and ships into the Taiwan Strait to reassert its sovereignty over the island.

Back in September, the administration of US President Joe Biden approved over $1.1 billion in arms sales to Taipei, the largest in his tenure, which included up to 60 anti-ship missiles and up to 100 air-to-air missiles.

Tensions between China and the US are at their highest level in years over American support for Taiwan, including weapons sales and visits by high-ranking politicians. 

The Wall Street Journal said in a report last week that Washington was planning to increase the number of US troops training Taiwanese forces on the self-governing island in the coming months.

It is unclear how many additional troops will take part in the expanded training efforts.

The report came after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told a visiting US congressional delegation that the two militaries will cooperate “even more closely” and plan to “bolster military exchanges.”

An increase in the number of troops in Taiwan could further increase tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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