The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said.
Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing.
However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the COVID-19 pandemic, alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Hong Kong’s new National Security Law.
At the same time, Taiwan’s desire to buy weapons increased after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was re-elected in January and she made bolstering the nation’s defenses a top priority.
Washington has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan,” as Beijing’s military makes increasingly aggressive moves in the region.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.
The weapons packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing Co and General Atomics are moving their way through the export process, three people on Capitol Hill familiar with the status of the deals said, and a notification to the US Congress is expected within weeks.
One industry source said that Trump is scheduled to be briefed on the arms packages this week by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Some of the deals had been requested by Taiwan more than a year ago, but are only now being moved through the approval process.
A US Department of State spokesman declined to comment.
A senior US official, citing Chinese assertiveness in the Taiwan Strait, said: “There is no equilibrium today. It is out of balance and I think that is dangerous.”
Trump’s White House has made an effort to export weapons to US allies as it tries to bolster their defenses, decrease dependence on US troops, and boost US companies and jobs.
As he campaigns for re-election on Nov. 3, Trump and Republican supporters have ramped up their rhetoric against Beijing and sought to portray former US vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, as soft on China.
Other factors include Taiwan’s bigger defense budget and the fear in Taiwan that if Trump loses, Biden would be less willing to sell the US’ most advanced weapons to the nation.
Taiwan is bolstering its defenses in the face of what it sees as increasingly threatening moves by Beijing, such as regular Chinese air and naval exercises near the nation.
The senior US official said that Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but that it needs to do more.
“Taiwan, frankly, needs to do more in order to ensure that they indigenously have an ability to deter Chinese aggression,” the US official said.
Late last night, the Ministry of National Defense issued a statement calling the Reuters report nothing more than "media speculation,” saying that the military does not discuss such deals publicly, and that it would report to the public whenever the State Department formally notifies the US Congress of any such deals.
Additional reporting by CNA
SOLVED: Domestic orders have already overtaken the total sold to China last year, while the Canadian and US representative offices posted messages of support A joint effort by groups and individuals in Taiwan and abroad to prop up sales of pineapples after China announced a ban on imports of the fruit succeeded in just four days, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday. China on Friday announced that it would suspend imports of Taiwanese pineapples starting on Monday, citing biosafety concerns. Following the announcement, the council urged the public to assist farmers by purchasing pineapples, saying it hoped to sell 20,000 tonnes of the fruit domestically and 30,000 tonnes in exports. “Domestic orders have already surpassed the total sold to China last year,” COA Minister
Taiwanese netizens and politicians yesterday mocked a Chinese plan to build a transportation network linking Beijing and Taipei, calling it “science fiction” and “daydreaming.” Their comments were in reaction to the Chinese State Council’s release last week of its “Guidelines on the National Comprehensive Transportation Network Plan,” which include several proposed transportation links, with one map showing a line running from China’s Jingjinji Metropolitan Region (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) across the Taiwan Strait to Taipei. “This is the Chinese leadership daydreaming again of [fulfilling its] fantasy of extending China’s transportation network to Taiwan. I suggest people regard it as science fiction,” Democratic Progressive
‘UNITED FRONT’: Grooming young Taiwanese to become Internet celebrities or hosts is a Chinese tactic to spread propaganda to influence young people, a source said As part of its “united front” tactics, China has been grooming young Taiwanese to become Internet celebrities or Internet program hosts, a source said on condition of anonymity. Over the past year, about 1,000 Taiwanese living in China have participated in training programs and competitions for show hosts held in several cities, including Xiamen, Wenzhou and Hangzhou, the source said on Saturday. “Beijing is taking advantage of the openness of the Internet to spread propaganda about acceptance of China, and about ‘national security,’” the source said, adding that Taiwan’s national security officials are racing to fix the problem. Chinese infiltration of
MAIN CHALLENGE: The US naval commander warned that China would seek to ‘forcibly change’ the balance of power in the region that would likely be permanent The US encourages Taiwan to invest in defense and obtain asymmetric defense capabilities, US Navy Admiral Philip Davidson said on Thursday. Davidson, commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, made the remark in a videoconference on defense matters hosted by the American Enterprise Institute think tank. “China is positioned to achieve overmatch” in its military capability by 2026, he said. When Beijing is able to, it would “likely choose to forcibly change” the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, “and I would say the change in that status quo could be permanent,” he said. “China seeks a new world order, one with Chinese characteristics,