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U.S. pursues $2 billion weapons sale to Taiwan: sources

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 6, 2019 - Duration: 02:17s

U.S. pursues $2 billion weapons sale to Taiwan: sources

The United States is pursuing the sale of more than $2 billion worth of tanks and weapons to Taiwan, four people familiar with the negotiations said, in a move likely to anger China as a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies escalates.

Grace Lee reports.

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U.S. pursues $2 billion weapons sale to Taiwan: sources

The U.S. is planning for a massive arms deal with Taiwan and that won't go down well in China.

According to sources, the U.S. congress has been sent an informal notice for the potential sale of 2 billion dollars' worth of weapons.

That includes over 100 tanks as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions.

It'll bolster Taiwan's defenses against China, which Beijing sees as its own territory.

The self-ruling - democratic - island doesn't agree.

(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) TAIWAN PRESIDENT, TSAI ING-WEN, SAYING: "China is trying to isolate Taiwan through military diplomacy and force the Taiwanese people to accept China's political views." Taiwan's been a point of tension for the U.S. and China and the new arms deal is expected to only add pressure as the two fire off in their costly trade war.

China's already warned - multiple times - that it's not against using force to take back what they say is theirs.

Ben Blanchard explains more.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT BEN BLANCHARD SAYING: "Taiwan is very well equipped with weapons, mostly provided by the United States.

Now the Taiwanese military is extremely well-trained, they're a professional military force.

However, in the last couple of years, the balance of power really has shifted fairly decisively in China's favor.

China has been spending a lot of money on stealth jets, submarines, aircraft carriers, anti-satellite missiles, this is the kind of thing that really worries military strategists in Taipei and of course in Washington.

Now the general strategy - or the general thought process has been that in the event of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, Taiwan should be able to hold out for a few days before the Americans come to provide support and aid for them, but of course there's no guarantee Americans will be able to get there in time or that even have the US president who will be willing to sacrifice American lives for Taiwan, this is one of the big unknowns about what would happen in the event of a military clash between Taiwan and China.

At a conference in Singapore last week, China's Defense Minister warned the U.S. not to meddle in its affairs with Taiwan.

Acting U.S. Defense secretary Patrick Shanahan was at the same meeting.

He hit back by saying the U.S. would no longer 'tiptoe' around China.

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