Taiwan says it has no intention of starting an arms race with the Chinese mainland but will further consolidate its defence ties with the US, following Washington approval for the sale of long-range cruise missiles to the self-ruled island.
The latest batch of proposed arms sales – the eighth to be approved during Donald Trump’s presidency – was welcomed by Taipei on Thursday in the face of growing military intimidation from Beijing. The US$1.8 billion package includes 135 AGM-84H cruise missiles and 11 truck-based rocket launchers with a striking range of more than 270km.
Taiwanese defence minister Yen De-fa said the approval indicated the US had “taken note of security in the Indo-Pacific region and security in the Taiwan Strait”.
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“We have no intention to have any arms race with the Chinese Communist forces and our arms purchases are made in line with our combat operation needs and the latest situation, as well as strategic consideration,” Yen said. He added that the sale still needed approval from the Taiwanese legislature.
Yen said the island would do all it could to consolidate its partnership with the US in upholding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.
Taiwan’s presidential office also welcomed the weapons sales, saying it was in line with the security commitment stipulated by the US Taiwan Relations Act and Washington’s “Six Assurances” – the semi-formal guidelines which underpin US policy towards the island.
“The deal can help strengthen our defence capability, modernise our combat readiness and promote our asymmetric warfare, which will increase our capability and confidence in safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” said presidential spokesman Xavier Chang.
The AGM-84H stand-off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles and related equipment from Boeing are estimated to be worth more than US$1 billion, while the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin will cost an estimated $436.1 million. The deal also covers six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for planes, at an estimated cost of US$367.2 million.
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