Selling seven major weapons systems at once is a rare undertaking by the US. In previous years, sales of US military equipment to the island were carefully restricted and calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing.
But the Trump administration is becoming more aggressive with China in 2020 and sales will land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades. Accusations of spying, a prolonged trade war and disputes over the spread of the new Coronavirus are the triggers.(Also read: Interrupted by Chinese fighter jets, the President of Taiwan visits the Air Defense Base)
At the same time, Taiwan’s desire to buy weapons increased after President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in January and has made strengthening Taiwan’s defense a top priority.
Taiwan is China‘s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing says it is a Chinese province, and has slammed the Trump administration’s support for the island.
Washington is eager to create a military counterweight to Chinese troops, building on what is known at the Pentagon as the “Taiwan Fortress”, as Beijing’s military is making increasingly aggressive strides in the region.(Also read: Chinese Combat Jets Explore Taiwan For Two Consecutive Days)
Three sources with knowledge of the matter said arms packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing and General Atomics are moving through the export process, and notification to Congress is expected to be given in a few weeks.
One industry source said President Donald Trump was scheduled to be briefed on the package this week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Several deals were requested by Taiwan more than a year ago, but are only now being processed through the approval process.