December 8, 2020
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan faces military threats on a daily basis from “authoritarian forces”, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, as the United States announced a new $280 million arms sale package to the Chinese-claimed island, the sixth this year.
The outgoing Trump administration has ramped up support for the democratic island, with 11 arms sale packages in total, and on Monday the U.S. government notified Congress of the sale of a new Field Information Communications System.
Such sales have riled China, adding to existing tension between Beijing and Washington, with China placing sanctions on U.S. companies involved and stepping up its military activities near Taiwan, including regular air force missions.
Speaking at a security forum in Taipei, Tsai noted the threats in the region, including the “increasingly militarised” South China Sea, which China claims large parts of and where it has built artificial islands with air and naval facilities.
“Authoritarian forces consistently attempt to violate the existing norms-based order,” Tsai said. “Taiwan has been at the receiving end of such military threats on a daily basis.”
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the latest weapons sale demonstrated that the U.S. commitment to helping strengthen the island’s defence capabilities remained unchanged.
“Taiwan and the United States will continue to consolidate their security partnership to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” it added.
Taiwan’s government has moved to reassure its people that the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, will not lessen U.S. backing for the island.
Speaking at the same forum, Kurt Campbell, a former U.S. official who has advised Biden, said there was strong bipartisan support for Taiwan.
“There is a broad group of people across the political aisle that understand the profound strategic significance and our strategic interests in maintaining a strong relationship with Taiwan,” said Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia under former President Barack Obama.
(Reporting by Ben BlanchardEditing by Michael Perry)