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Arms package to Taiwan aimed at curbing China influence: scholar

2019/07/09 19:47:40

M1A2 Abrams Tank / photo from www.army.mil

Taipei, July 9 (CNA) The approval of a U.S. arms package to Taiwan that includes M1A2T Abrams tanks is part of Washington's efforts to promote its Indo-Pacific Strategy and also a response aimed at curbing China's growing regional influence, a Taiwanese scholar said Tuesday.

Chieh Chung (揭仲), a senior assistant research fellow at the Taipei-based National Policy Foundation, said the newly approved weapons package puts pressure on China as Beijing expands its economic and strategic footprint in the Indo-Pacific region.

The move can also be seen as a response by Washington to promote its free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, Chung said.

The arms sales, totaling US$2.22 billion, include 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and relevant equipment and support, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, and four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger fly-to-buy missiles and relevant equipment.

The announcement was made by the Department of State's Political-Military Bureau and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which formally informed Congress of the approval Monday.

The firepower, command and control characteristics of the Abrams tank are keys to boosting the island's ground defense capabilities, said Lt. Gen. Yang Hai-ming (楊海明), chief of staff of the Republic of China Army.

The M1 Abrams is a third-generation U.S. main battle tank that has seen multiple actions during the Persian Gulf War, the war in Afghanistan and the Iraq War.

Besides the U.S., countries that also use the tank include Australia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Morocco.

According to a military officer familiar with the matter, the M1A2T is a special configuration variant that specifically caters to Taiwan, while the letter "T" designates "Taiwan."

(By Matt Yu and Ko Lin)
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