The US has approved the sale to Taiwan of US$619 million in munitions for F-16 fighter jets, the Pentagon announced Wednesday, in a move likely to anger Beijing.

Tsai Ing-wen fighter jet military
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on a F-16V BLK20 fighter jet. File Photo: Makoto Lin/Taiwan Presidential Office, via Flickr.

The package includes 100 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM), 200 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles(AMRAAM), and launchers and dummy missiles for training, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The sale will boost Taiwan’s “capability to provide for the defence of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the United States,” it added.

The announcement comes amid elevated tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan, as well as the downing last month of a balloon over US airspace that Washington says was a Chinese surveillance device.

Taiwan has been self-ruled for over seven decades, but Beijing regards it as a renegade province.

US state department
US State Department. Photo: Wikicommons.

The US State Department said separately that the sale is consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and Washington’s One China Policy, which accepts that there is only one state called China.

“The United States’ support to Taiwan and steps Taiwan takes to enhance its self-defense capabilities contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” the State Department said.

Taiwan said it welcomes the first US arms sales of the year and the ninth so far during President Joe Biden’s tenure.

“In the face of China’s continued military expansion and provocative behaviour, Taiwan will continue to actively improve its self-defence capabilities,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jeff Liu said.

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