Obama Announces $6B Arms Sale To Taiwan

The Obama administration announced the sale of $6 billion worth of Patriot anti-missile systems, helicopters, mine-sweeping ships and communications equipment to Taiwan. The Obama administration says weapons sales to Taiwan help to maintain stability in East Asia by making it more difficult for Beijing to bully Taiwan. China strongly urges the U.S. side to fully recognize the gravity of the issue and revoke the decision on arms sales to Taiwan and stop selling any weapons to Taiwan. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and contends that U.S. arms sales to the island as gross intervention into China’s internal affairs. Taiwan is facing about 1,400 short-range ballistic missiles from China and plans to deploy the new PAC-3s in the central and southern regions of Taiwan. Taiwan has been awaiting the release of congressional notifications since the Bush administration approved the sale of eight diesel submarines in 2001. Taiwan has an urgent need for new utility helicopters to replace ageing UH-1H “Huey” helicopters procured during the 1980s. Over the past month, at least six senior Chinese officials have warned the Obama administration not to sell the weapons to Taiwan, and some have raised the possibility that China might sanction the companies involved.
The United States is legally obligated to provide weapons for Taiwan’s defense, under the Taiwan Relations Act. The U.S. Congress has 30 days to comment on the newest arms sales before the plan goes forward. The United States is Taiwan’s most important ally and largest arms supplier. The last US arms package for Taiwan, announced under previous president George W. Bush in October 2008, also led China to cut off military relations with the United States temporarily. The Chinese government has reacted badly. Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafai delivered a protest to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, Jon Huntsman. China said it was suspending military exchanges with the United States protesting the arms sells. It is not clear if the People’s Liberation Army will begin moving missile launchers to appropriate positions and make other moves to threaten an attack if Washington does not cancel the deal.

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