Taiwan 'deeply regrets' China's threat against U.S. arms suppliers

10/26/2020 08:56 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Monday expressed "deep regrets" in response to Beijing's threats to sanction American companies that participate in the United States' latest round of arms sales to Taiwan.

"Taiwan has been working hard to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said in a statement.

"In the face of China's military threats and coercions, our government has the responsibility to protect its people," she said in defending the need for the weapons purchases.

Ou said Taiwan will continue to seek procurements of defense articles from the United States in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances, the guidelines used by Washington to deal with Taiwan.

Ou was responding to an announcement by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (趙立堅) in Beijing earlier Monday that China will impose sanctions on Boeing Defense, Lockheed Martin Corp., and Raytheon Technologies Corp. for participating in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

The U.S. State Department approved three arms packages for Taiwan totaling US$1.8 billion, and submitted them to Congress for a final review on Oct. 21.

The packages include 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers, 6 MS-110 Recce Pods, and related equipment.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), an associate research fellow at the government-funded Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told CNA recently that the significance of the latest round of arms deals was that they involved long-range weapons, unlike previous deals that only involved "passive defense systems."

According to various defense websites, the SLAM-ER has a strike range of about 270 kilometers while that of HIMARS can reach 300 kilometers, covering some of China's southeastern provinces.

The HIMARS, according to another security analyst, can even be carried onto a ship so that it can fire rockets or missiles at sea.

The possible sales came at a time when China, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, continues to increase its military activities around Taiwan, such as live-fire drills and military maneuvers.

In October alone, at least 19 Chinese military planes have entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as of Sunday, including one unmanned aerial vehicle.

On Sept. 19, as many as 19 Chinese military aircraft, including J-16 multirole strike fighters, either crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait or entered Taiwan's southwest ADIZ in one of China's biggest shows of force near Taiwan recently.

(By Emerson Lim)

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