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International relations

U.S. approves $100m deal for Taiwan missile defense upgrades

Second planned sale under Biden comes amid cross-strait tensions

Patriot surface-to-air missile launchers are used during a drill at an air base in Taiwan.   © Reuters

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. has authorized the sale of military equipment and services to Taiwan to support its missile defense system in a deal estimated to be worth the equivalent of $100 million, as Washington backs the building of a strong air defense system on the island while pressure from China intensifies.

Taipei had sought participation in the five-year program, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Monday, to maintain and improve its Patriot Air Defense System. Participation is mandatory for owners of a Patriot missile system.

The agency is the branch of the Defense Department responsible for Washington's Foreign Military Sales program.

"This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient's continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability," the agency said in its announcement. The deal also will "help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability [and] military balance" in the region.

The deal still requires approval by Congress.

This would be the second arms sale to Taiwan approved by President Joe Biden's administration, following a $750 million deal greenlighted last August that includes 40 self-propelled artillery systems and 20 ammunition support vehicles.

The U.S. sells military equipment to Taipei under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which states that Washington "will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability."

Beijing objects strongly to the deal. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan "gravely undermine China's sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-U.S. relations and cross-strait peace and stability," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters Tuesday.

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