The Trump administration notified Congress of an arms sale, which included advanced torpedoes and logistics support tools, to Taiwan worth around $180 million Wednesday.
A statement released the same day by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said that the State Department had approved the sale of eighteen MK-48 Mod6 Advanced Technology Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan, noting that the move was done to advance American security interests by helping Taiwan “maintain a credible defensive capability.”
The move comes amid rising tensions between the United States and China, and would certainly worsen the already poor relationship between the two, according to Reuters.
The move was denounced by Beijing, and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated that “China firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan” during a press conference Thursday. He also warned that more arms sales could “further harm China-US relations and cross-straits peace and stability.”
Taiwan, which is only separated from China by a narrow strait of water, is not recognized by the United States as an independent country due to a longstanding agreement with China, but it does receive military support through the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. The presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, who was elected in 2016, has marked a turning point in Taiwan’s foreign policy due to her pro-independence leanings.
China considers Taiwan to be a part of its territory, but it has previously floated the possibility of applying the “one country, two systems” principle to Taiwan. In such a situation, Taiwan would have the same status as Hong Kong, as an autonomous territory but formally a part of China. Tsai was sworn in for a second term Wednesday, and in a speech given after her inauguration she said that Taiwan is open to talks with China but would never accept the “one country, two systems” principle, Reuters reported.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also congratulated Tsai on her re-election, and the sale of advanced torpedoes was approved on the same day as her inauguration. (RELATED: Beijing Will Seek ‘Revenge’ If Trump Crosses China On Taiwan)
Congratulations to Dr. Tsai Ing-wen on the commencement of your second-term as Taiwan’s President. Taiwan’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to the region and the world. With President Tsai at the helm, our partnership with Taiwan will continue to flourish.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) May 19, 2020
As tensions mount between China and the United States, the Chinese military has stepped up its military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, flying fighter jets into Taiwanese airspace and sending warships to patrol the nearby waters.