U.S. State Department approves $180 million sale of anti-tank systems to Taiwan

The State Department has approved a potential deal to sell Volcano anti-tank mine systems to Taiwan for about $180 million, the department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said on Twitter.

Military industrial Northrop Grumman and special equipment maker Oshkosh Corporation could be the main contractors in the deal, Reuters reported, citing the Pentagon.

U.S. law requires congressional approval for arms sales that exceed certain amounts, but it is not necessary if lawmakers have given the State Department and the Pentagon appropriate informal approval, the agency noted.

Taiwan – an island in the South China Sea, about 100 km from the coast of China. Its administrative status is not settled: the territory declared its separation from China in 1949, but Beijing does not recognize its independence and considers it one of the Chinese provinces. Russia supports the “one China” principle, and the U.S. authorities also say so.

Although the United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it sells weapons to it under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which provides for the supply of weapons to the country for self-defense. Specifically, in September, the State Department approved the possible sale of more than $1.1 billion worth of weapons to the island, including up to 60 anti-ship missiles and up to a hundred air-to-air missiles.

The U.S. administration made the decision shortly after relations between Taiwan and China deteriorated over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island. China strongly criticized the visit and began military exercises near Taiwan and has been regularly moving its military forces near the island ever since.

In response to the exercises of the Chinese military, Taiwan increased its level of alert. The island authorities also decided to triple the military conscription term (from four months to a year), explaining this by the threat from the PRC.

At the opening ceremony of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China on October 16, Xi Jinping said that Beijing would oppose separatism in Taiwan and did not rule out the use of force. He also stressed the need to turn the Chinese People’s Liberation Army into a “world-class” force by 2027. According to the U.S. CIA, Beijing has instructed the military to prepare for military control of Taiwan by that date.