Trump administration preparing for Taiwan arms sale

President Tsai Ing-wen makes national defense a priority in response to Chinese incursions

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Taiwan F16s

Taiwan F16s (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. is expected to approve a large weapons package to Taiwan, according to congressional and administration sources.

A congressional aide told CNN the Trump administration is preparing to sell seven packages of weapons systems to Taiwan. The aide added it was still unclear as to when Congress would be formally notified of the sales, which is required by law.

Reuters first reported on the possible sales Sept. 16, noting that seven sales at once would be a departure from previous deals that saw packages spaced out in order to reduce opposition from China. As Beijing has stepped up military actions around Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has made national defense a priority.

A U.S. official said the administration will soon formally approve a sale of General Atomics MQ-9B SeaGuardian surveillance drones, expected to be worth around US$600 million, according to CNN. Other weapons systems possibly for sale include Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Boeing’s land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, underwater sea mines, and other capabilities to deter an amphibious invasion, Reuters reported.

According to the New York Times, one of the weapons systems Taiwan is looking to acquire is Boeing’s AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER air-to-ground missile. The missiles could target Chinese warships crossing the Taiwan Strait or hit land-based targets in China.

“As a matter of policy we do not comment on or confirm proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN. The Pentagon also declined to comment on the proposed packages.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said media reports on the sales were “mere speculation” and stressed that military purchases are strictly confidential.