WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department has approved potential defense sales to Taiwan worth an estimated $440.2 million, according to two separate statements Thursday.
The approval comes amid tension between the U.S. and China over human rights, military activities and economic practices. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Beijing this month, where he held “candid, substantive, and constructive discussions on key priorities in the bilateral relationship and on a range of global and regional issues” with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a State Department release.
In particular, the two nations disagree over the status of Taiwan, which China considers a rogue province and has threatened to take back by force.
The larger of the two deals, worth $332.2 million, is for 30mm ammunition and related equipment, specifically high-explosive incendiary tracer rounds, multipurpose rounds and training rounds. The principal contractors are Alliant Techsystems Operations LLC in Minnesota and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems in Illinois.
“The proposed sale will contribute to the sustainment of the recipient’s CM34 Armored Vehicles, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” the release read.
The other potential sale, worth $108 million, is for “a Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Arrangement (CLSSA) Foreign Military Sales Order II (FMSO II) to support the purchase of spare and repair parts for wheeled vehicles, weapons, and other related elements of program support,” the agency noted.
The sales serve “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,” a State Department spokesperson said. They also help “improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”
The U.S. has pumped billions of dollars in security assistance into Taiwan in recent years in the hopes of deterring a military assault from China.
Congress approved $3 billion for the Defense and State departments to distribute to Taiwan in the fiscal 2023 defense authorization bill. The Biden administration also provided $500 million in military aid in May under presidential drawdown authority — the same executive tool used to transfer weapons and aid to Ukraine.
U.S. officials are currently trying to unclog a nearly $19 billion logjam in assistance to Taipei.
The U.S. is required to “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 capabilities,” according to the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. The law was put into place by Congress in 1979 following the normalization of relations between the U.S. and China.
Jaime Moore-Carrillo is an editorial fellow for Military Times and Defense News. A Boston native, Jaime graduated with degrees in international affairs, history, and Arabic from Georgetown University, where he served as a senior editor for the school's student-run paper, The Hoya.