Arms sales will help Taiwan maintain defense: U.S. State Department

In this photo released by Military News Agency, a Taiwan Air Force, U.S.-made F16-V, lands on a highway during an exercise to simulate a response to a Chinese attack on its airfields in Changhua in southern Taiwan. Tuesday's exercise is part of annual drills designed to showcase the island's military capabilities and resolve to repel an attack from across the Taiwan Strait amid perceptions of a rising threat. (Military News Agency via AP)

WASHINGTON (CNA) — A recent arms sale package to Taipei approved by Washington was made based on United States law and intended to help boost Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on July 9.

“Well, I think everybody here in this room, especially all of you from our — from the Asian bureaus, are aware of the Taiwan Relations Act. The State Department did notify on the arms sale today,” Ortagus told a routine news conference.

“Our interest in Taiwan, especially as it relates to these military sales, is to promote peace and stability across the straits, across the region. And so our — there’s no change, of course, in our longstanding ‘one China’ policy. That’s based on the Three Joint Communiques, the Taiwan Relations Act.”

“So I don’t see our notification here as anything other than complying with the Taiwan Relations Act. The law specifically, of course, requires these sorts of — requires us to help Taiwan maintain their defense, self-sufficient defense capabilities. But our ‘one China’ policy remains the same, and so there’s no new policy announcements for today,” she added.

Ortagus was referring to a US$2.22 billion arms sale package approved by the State Department to Taiwan Monday, which included 108 M1A2T Abrams Tanks and relevant equipment and support, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, and four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles and related equipment.

However, the package does not include 66 F-16V fighter jets that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense sought to purchase Feb. 27.

The sales are the most substantive since Trump came to power in January 2017, following earlier sales announced June 29, 2017, Sept. 24, 2018, and April 15, 2019 that included training and maintenance/logistics support, along with torpedoes, anti-radiation missiles, and missile components.

By Chiang Chin-yej and Flor Wang