South Korea

Obama administration authorizes $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan that included two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment, drawing attention from China. angry response.

An AAV-P7A1 amphibious assault vehicle of the Taiwan Marine Corps is seen as part of a military parade for Taiwan’s National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei, October 10, 2011. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

Reuters reported on Monday that the authorization comes a year after Congress passed legislation authorizing the sale. It was the first sale of such a large weapon to Taiwan in more than four years.

The White House said that the long-standing “one China” policy of the United States has not changed. In the past, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have drawn strong condemnation in China, which considers Taiwan a rebellious province.

The White House said the administration had previously issued notices of sales under the Taiwan Relations Act totaling more than $12 billion.

“Our longstanding policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across six different U.S. administrations,” said National Security Council spokesman Myles Caggins. “We remain committed to one of our China policy,” he added.

Although Washington does not recognize Taiwan as a country separate from China, it works under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensure that Taipei can maintain a credible defense.

The sale comes amid heightened tensions between China and the United States over the South China Sea, where Washington has criticized China for building man-made islands to assert extensive territorial claims.

China summoned Kay Lee, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Beijing, to protest and said it would impose sanctions on the companies, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China strongly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan,” Xinhua quoted Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned Lee Kuan Yew, as saying.

Zheng said the arms sales violated international law and basic norms governing international relations and “seriously” damaged China’s sovereignty and security.

“To safeguard national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions on companies involved in arms sales,” Zheng said.

The State Department said Raytheon and Lockheed Martin were prime contractors for the sale.

It is unclear what impact the sanctions might have on the companies, although in 2013 Lockheed Martin signed a deal with Thailand-based Reignwood to build an offshore factory on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, Powering luxury resorts.

“The participation of US companies in arms sales to Taiwan has seriously damaged China’s sovereignty and security interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

“The Chinese government and companies will not cooperate and do business with such companies.”

However, previous Chinese threats of sanctions have not been followed up by Beijing.

The arms sale will also inevitably affect military-to-military relations, China’s Defense Ministry said, without elaborating.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the new weapons would be put into use in phases over several years, allowing Taiwan to maintain and develop a credible defense.

US State Department spokesman John Kirby said the decision was based solely on Taiwan’s defense needs.

“The Chinese can react to this as they see fit,” he said. “It’s nothing new. … It doesn’t have to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China.”

Kirby said Washington wanted to work towards a “better, more transparent and more effective relationship” with China in the region and had engaged with Taiwan and China on Wednesday about that. He declined to elaborate.

David McKeebee, another State Department spokesman, said the weapons package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million worth of Javelin anti-tank missiles, made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and the $217 million Raytheon Stinger surface-to-air missile, and the $375 million AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicle.

The State Department said the frigates were provided as surplus items at a cost of $190 million. The package also includes $416 million worth of firearms, upgrade kits, ammunition and support for Raytheon’s close-in weapon system.

Analysts and congressional sources attribute the delay to formal approval of the sale to the Obama administration’s desire to maintain a stable working relationship with China, an increasingly powerful strategic rival and a key economic partner of the world’s second-largest economy.

U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday they were pleased the administration had approved the sale, but called for a more formal process for such deals.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said that would “avoid prolonged fears that undermining U.S.-China relations could compromise Taiwan’s defense capabilities.”

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and JR Wu in Taipei and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Leslie Adler and Clarence Fernandez

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