US approves $360 million arms sale to Taiwan for missiles, drones

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The US State Department has approved the possible sale to Taiwan of drones and missiles for an estimated $360 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

The United States is bound by law to provide Chinese-claimed Taiwan with the means to defend itself despite the lack of formal diplomatic ties, to the constant anger of Beijing.

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China has been stepping up military pressure against Taiwan, including staging war games around the island last month after the inauguration of Lai Ching-te as president.

The sale “will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region”, the Pentagon agency said in separate statements on Tuesday in the United States.

The sale includes Switchblade 300 anti-personnel and anti-armour loitering munitions and related equipment for an estimated cost of $60.2 million, and ALTIUS 600M-V drones and related equipment for an estimated cost of $300 million, the agency added. Loitering munitions are small guided missiles that can fly around a target area until they are directed to attack.

Taiwan’s defence ministry expressed its thanks, especially for US efforts to increase arms sales to the island. Taiwan has repeatedly complained of delayed deliveries.

“In the face of the Chinese communists’ frequent military operations around Taiwan, these US-agreed-to arms sales items will have the ability to detect and strike in real time, and can respond quickly to enemy threats,” it said in a statement.

Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait require goodwill from China, the ministry added.

“It is hoped that the People’s Liberation Army will stop its oppressive military operations around Taiwan and jointly contribute to regional stability.”

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