Taiwan expresses gratitude after U.S approves arms sales

2019/07/09 18:25:39 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
M1A2 Abrams tanks / photo from www.army.mil

M1A2 Abrams tanks / photo from www.army.mil

Taipei, July 9 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), as well as the national defense and foreign affairs ministries, on Tuesday thanked the U.S. government after it approved a new arms sale package to Taiwan.

The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs under the U.S. State Department announced the sale of a weapons package that includes M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles, with the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) formally informing Congress of the approval on Monday.

In a Facebook post Tuesday, Tsai expressed appreciation for the defensive weapons provided by the U.S. government, saying they will strengthen Taiwan's national defense capacity and deter potential military threats, as well as ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait and the wider region.

The U.S. government has used the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the cornerstone of U.S.-Taiwan relations, to take concrete actions that realize its commitment to Taiwan's security, Tsai said.

As a responsible member of the Indo-Pacific region, she added, Taiwan is determined to defend the nation's hard-won democracy and freedom and safeguard security and stability in the region.

The Ministry of National Defense said in a statement Tuesday that this is the fourth arms sale to Taiwan since Donald Trump became U.S. President on Jan. 20, 2017, showing Washington has moved to normalize arms sales to Taiwan.

Previous sales announced on June 29, 2017, Sept. 24, 2018, and April 15, 2019, included training and maintenance/logistics support along with torpedoes and missile components.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a press release that Taiwan welcomes the arm sales, noting that such deals are in accordance with the TRA and will not affect cross-strait relations.

China has recently been undermining peace and stability in the region with intimidating rhetoric and military provocations, MOFA said.

As Taiwan is in the frontline of China's expansionism and faces threats and pressure from Beijing, the arms sale is of great significance in terms of enhancing Taiwan's self-defense capabilities, it added.

In its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report released in June, the U.S. Department of Defense reaffirmed its security commitment to Taiwan and pointed out that Taiwan, along with New Zealand, Mongolia and Singapore, are reliable, capable, and natural partners of the U.S., MOFA said.

When asked to comment on the proposed arms sale, Aaron Huang, acting spokesperson of the American Institute in Taiwan, told CNA that it is consistent with the TRA and U.S. support for Taiwan's ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.

"We view this proposed sale as a prudent defense investment to upgrade a current capability," he said.

This sale provides modern armored capability and will contribute to the effective defense of Taiwan by supporting its ongoing efforts to modernize its defense forces, he said.

According to the DSCA website, FMS programs are a form of security assistance where Washington may sell defense articles and services to foreign countries and international organizations when the president formally finds that to do so will strengthen the security of the U.S. and promote world peace.

The arms sale, totaling US$2.22 billion, includes 108 M1A2T Abrams Tanks and relevant equipment and support, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles and relevant equipment.

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

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Elaine Hou, Matt Yu and Chung Yu-chen)

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