US to send Taiwan $2.2 billion in weapons

US to send Taiwan $2.2 billion in weapons

Sailors from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 attached to Commander Task Force 70 conduct helicopter vertical, board, search and seizure training operations in the South China Sea in June (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Tarleton)

WASHINGTON — The State Department has approved a potential arms sale to Taiwan estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, ratcheting up the military tension between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea region.

The sale centers on 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, along with machine guns, smoke grenades and launchers, and related equipment, the Pentagon said in an email to reporters Monday night. The announcement was in compliance with the requirement to inform Congress 30 days in advance of a potential sale.

The equipment will “contribute to the modernization of the recipient’s main battle tank fleet,” improve its air defense system and “support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability,” the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in the email.

On Tuesday, China’s foreign ministry demanded Washington “immediately cancel” the proposed sale. Beijing has filed formal complaints to voice “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition” to the sale, foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters at a press briefing, according to news reports.

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