In its eighth arms sales package to Taiwan in just four years, the Trump administration is including, for the first time in forty years, offensive weapons that can reach targets on the Chinese mainland. Until now it has been U.S. policy to only sell the democratic island nation defensive weapons in order to not provoke China.
However, President Trump appears to be taking the gloves off as Beijing has become increasingly belligerent and threatening toward Taipei.
These Chinese threats have included significantly ramped up naval, air, and military drills in and around Taiwanese waters by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), many of them specifically focused on amphibious assaults and invasion tactics. The offensive U.S weapons sales are a direct response to these increased invasion threats.
Chieh Chung, a national security researcher at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei said, according to Inkstone News, “The PLA is tipped to increase its amphibious and landing capability between 2025 and 2035, which would threaten Taiwan. By offering those weapons, they could help increase Taiwanese [capability in terms of] striking distance and hitting moving targets during PLA landing attacks.”
The latest $1.8 billion arms package includes 135 air-launched AGM-84H cruise missiles with a range of more than 168 miles as well as 11 mobile, land-based High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers armed with 64 Army Tactical Missile System (ATMS) missiles that can hit targets at a distance of 186 miles with a 500-pound warhead, bringing many Chinese coastal military installations easily into range.
“This is a breakthrough in US arms sales for Taiwan,” said Mei Fu-hsing, director of the Taiwan Security Analysis Center, in New York. Combined with the U.S. sale of 66 of the latest F-16V “Viper” jet fighters, Taiwan will be the first U.S. ally to carry AGM-84H cruise missiles using F-16Vs.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is clearly not happy with these U.S. military sales. On Thursday, noted Inkstone News, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian lashed out at Washington for “seriously violating the “one-China principle.”