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Washington Approves $360 Million Arms Sale to Taiwan

by | Jun 21, 2024

Washington Approves $360 Million Arms Sale to Taiwan

by | Jun 21, 2024

china vs versus taiwan. world political cold war concept. china opens hostilities with taiwan

China vs versus Taiwan. World political cold war concept. China opens hostilities with Taiwan

The State Department said on Tuesday that it has green-lit a $360 million arms sale to Taipei, including hundreds of armed drones, missile equipment, and other support material. China views Taiwan as part of its territory, and while it prefers to reclaim the de facto independent island peacefully, it has not ruled out using force if its “red lines” are crossed.

The latest sale comprises 291 Altius-600M systems, which are drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), armed with warheads. The State Department release notes 720 Switchblade drones, described as “extended-range loitering munitions,” are also included with the package.

The statement went on to claim that the sale “serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.” Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te thanked Washington for the new hardware, insisting they will increase regional stability. “In the future, we will continue to strengthen Taiwan’s national defense strength, whether through … military purchases or our own efforts,” he said.

Wednesday’s announcement follows reports this week that Chinese President Xi Jinping told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last year that he believes the hawkish US posture in the region and its increased military support for the island constitute an attempt to provoke an invasion by Beijing.

Earlier this month, Adm. Samuel Paparo, the head of US Indo-Pacific Command, told Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin he plans to wage a “hellscape” drone war, launching thousands of UAVs, drone boats, and unmanned submarines against China if it attacks the island. “I want to turn the Taiwan Strait into an unmanned hellscape using a number of classified capabilities,” he threatened. “So that I can make their lives utterly miserable for a month, which buys me the time for the rest of everything.”

His predecessor, Admiral John Aquilino, said last year that he was instructed by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin and President Joe Biden to prepare for a direct war with China over the self-ruled island. “What I can tell you is the secretary and the president have tasked me with two missions. The first is to prevent this conflict. And then the second one is if I fail at Mission One to be ready and prepared to fight and win… the United States military is manned, trained, equipped, postured and ready to execute both of those missions,” the commander proclaimed.

This was yet another confirmation that the White House has discarded the decades-old policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding what role the US would play in the event of a cross-strait war. Since taking office, Biden had made several ostensible “gaffes” suggesting the US, in fact, has a defense commitment with the island and that American men and women would be deployed to fight and die to protect its de facto independence. Last year, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and the then-top Asia official on the National Security Council, Kurt Campbell, reiterated that the policy was changed from ambiguity to strategic clarity, or an overt war footing.

Since last year, in another about-face on long-standing US policies regarding the island, the US has provided Taipei with billions in military aid, angering Beijing. US officials say their goal is to convert the island into a “giant weapons depot.” A war over Taiwan with direct US intervention would likely turn nuclear. China has the ability to inflict severe damage to US security if such a fight were to take place, including strikes with strategic weapons across the continental United States.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman

Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on Conflicts of Interest. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as Antiwar.com and Counterpunch, as well as the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96

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