Biden escalates with $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan

Guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville share a pier at Naval Station Yokosuk, Japan. Photo: US Navy

The Biden administration is set to ramp up its arms sales to Taiwan with numbers that suggest Ukraine levels of escalation.

“The Biden administration plans to formally ask Congress to approve an estimated $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the package,” Politico reports.

According to Politico, the over $1 billion arms package includes “60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles for $355 million, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles for $85.6 million, and $655.4 million for a surveillance radar contract extension, the people said. The Sidewinder missiles will arm Taipei’s U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets.”

“When it comes to the Taiwan question, the U.S. president is very much like the general sales manager of a big arms dealer,” Global Times writer Hu Xijin commented on Twitter.

The new escalation to send more advanced arms to Taiwan follows a month of four separate U.S. Congressional delegation visits. It started with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s grandstanding arrival Aug. 2 in a U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40 militarized aircraft.

On Aug. 28, the U.S. Navy sent a pair of warships through the Taiwan Strait for the first time since Pelosi’s trip.

U.S. warships in Chinese waters

CNN reported: “The guided-missile cruisers USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville were on Sunday making the voyage ‘through waters where high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight apply in accordance with international law,’ the U.S. 7th Fleet in Japan said in a statement.”

A spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said in response: “Troops of the (Eastern) Theater Command are on high alert and ready to foil any provocation at any time.”

“There is no legal basis for ‘international waters’ in the international law of the sea. It is false to call the Taiwan Strait international waters, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular news conference on June 13 when asked by a reporter from Bloomberg,” says Li Huan of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

Huan adds: “The term ‘international waters’ used by the Bloomberg reporter is not a formal legal term in the international law of the sea, but it is used informally by some countries to refer to ‘high seas.’… Situated between the mainland and the islands of a country, the Taiwan Strait connects the East China Sea and the South China Sea. …

“The Taiwan Strait is approximately 70 nautical miles at its narrowest and about 220 nautical miles at its widest. Under the [1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea] and Chinese law, the Taiwan Strait’s waters comprise China’s internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, and exclusive economic zone. States have different rights and obligations over different waters, and different modes of navigation apply to different waters. …

“U.S. warships this year have been sailing in the Taiwan Strait about once a month on average. … Such [U.S. military] navigation borders on provocation by supporting Taiwan separatists and continually hollowing out and deflating the ‘One China’ policy.

“In accordance with the convention and Chinese law, China’s government enjoys sovereignty and jurisdiction over the waters of the Taiwan Strait, while respecting the legitimate rights of other countries in these waters. If this question is deliberately manipulated using the false claim that China is in violation of the rules of the international law of the sea, China certainly needs” to respond.

The U.S. military already encircles China with a chain of air bases and military ports. It wants to add bases in Taiwan.

Control of computer chip production

“Beyond being a military asset, Taiwan is the global center of production of computer chips, making it crucial for global supply chains and the production of electronics by U.S. companies,” Brendan Devlin reports in Passage, an independent media outlet in Canada.

“While in Taiwan, Pelosi had a meeting with the chairman of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation. The visit coincides with U.S. efforts to convince the company to set up a manufacturing base in the U.S. and to stop making advanced chips for Chinese companies.”

Under the One China policy, the U.S. — like the rest of the world — recognizes Taiwan as a part of China.

The unification of China has always been seen as an essential part of building socialist China. 

The Chinese constitution states: “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.” The Communist Party of China has always stressed its desire to achieve a peaceful reunification with Taiwan.

The escalation of arms from the U.S. to Taiwan, the expanded U.S. naval operations in the South China Sea and Strait of Taiwan, and the increasing frequency of the exercises by aircraft carrier strike groups threaten peace. These are war provocations and must be stopped.

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