- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 22, 2020

The Trump administration this week formally notified Congress of an intended $1.8 billion weapons sale to Taiwan amid soaring tensions with China.

The notice, announced Wednesday, detailed the weapons package approved by the State Department and includes 135 Boeing-made air-to-ground missiles, also known as Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, and related maintenance products valued at more than $1 billion; 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers worth roughly $436 million; and six MS-110 Recce Pods valued at $367.2 million.

“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 announcement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said. The agency said the massive sale is intended to help Taiwan “meet current and future threats as it provides all-weather, day and night, precision attack capabilities against both moving and stationary targets.”

The decision to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan marks a particularly provocative advance in the eyes of China, which is expected to be angered by the purchase.

The sale is the latest step in a sharp escalation of tensions between the U.S. and China, which has included the shuttering of diplomatic consulates, trade tariffs, the expulsion of journalists and U.S. sanctions over Chinese policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang province.

Last week, Congress was informally notified of the intent to sell the weapons package to Taiwan. The administration has yet to formalize a sale of F-16s to Taiwan and several additional weapons including aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines.

Foreign weapons sales must be authorized by the congressional panel before they can be finalized.

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