The State Department approved Monday the sale of Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles to Taiwan, a move which comes amid trade tensions with China and is certain to provoke its anger.
Congress was notified of the decision to sell the requested equipment on Monday.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said back in March that the Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles her country had requested from the United States would “greatly enhance our land and air capabilities, strengthen military morale and show to the world the U.S. commitment to Taiwan’s defense.”
China’s Defense Ministry said in response that the country was “firmly opposed to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and US military contact with Taiwan,” CNN reports.
The tanks are worth around $2 billion and the missiles another $223 million, the outlet writes.
According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale of tanks serves “U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting” Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”
The agency added that the Stinger missile sale would help strengthen Taiwan’s security and defensive capability, deeming Taiwan a vital force for maintaining the region’s “political stability, military balance, and economic progress.”
The U.S. has long sold arms to Taiwan, which China continues to oppose, saying it “has never renounced the use of military force and continues to develop and deploy advanced military capabilities needed for a potential military campaign” even the country is seeking a peaceful unification with Taiwan.
A May report from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said Taiwan’s traditional military advantages over Beijing in the event of a cross-strait conflict were eroding due to China’s military modernization efforts.
The U.S. has announced over $15 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010.
The latest move comes at a time when Washington and Beijing are trying to negotiate a trade deal and resolve trade disputes. President Donald Trump told reporters Sunday that “we’re doing very well with China” as well as that trade negotiations were helped by his administration’s tariffs on China.