The Biden administration will request Congress to authorize roughly $1.1 billion weapons sale for Taiwan amid an increased push among lawmakers to show support for the self-governing island, Politico reported Monday.
China has dispatched warships and aircraft across the unofficial “median line” dividing China and Taiwan every day since U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in early August, followed by two more congressional delegations. Escalating rhetoric has sparked concern Beijing may attempt to capture Taiwan by force, prompting efforts from the U.S. and other Western nations to fortify the island against the Chinese military, according to Politico.
An early version of the security deal contains $355 million for 60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles, $85.6 million for 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles and a $655.4 million surveillance radar contract extension, according to Politico, citing three people familiar with the package.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will have to approve the sale before the final details become available, according to Politico.
A number of items are in the pipeline to bolster Taiwan’s defenses in the coming weeks and months, Reuters reported. The White House plans to augment Taiwan’s existing capabilities rather than providing new systems over fears new capabilities could further inflame tensions with China.
The U.S. conducted a record $10.7 billion in arms sales to Taiwan in 2019, compared to $750 million in 2021 and $420 million so far in 2022, according to data compiled by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
While the U.S. has not formally guaranteed it will defend Taiwan if China invades and publicly denies support for the island’s full independence per the “One China” policy, lawmakers have stressed the need to support Taiwan amid growing Chinese influence in the region.
In response to Pelosi’s visit, China launched its largest ever military drills, including launching live missiles into Taiwanese airspace. The Taiwanese military fired warning shots at a Chinese drone that buzzed a Taiwan-controlled islet near the coastal mainland Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Pelosi affirmed U.S. “support for our partner and on promoting our shared interests, including advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region” in a statement regarding her trip. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” she added.
The U.S. Navy conducted a routine transit through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, sending a message to China that the U.S. would not tolerate China’s attempts to subvert a free and open Indo-Pacific region.