Washington – The Trump administration notified Congress on Monday of plans to sell $ 2.37 billion in Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan, just hours after Beijing announced sanctions against US defense contractors, including Boeing, the main contractor in the Harpoon deal.
The Foreign Ministry said: “The United States maintains an unwavering interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and considers Taiwan’s security essential to the security and stability of the Indian and Pacific region.” She said the deal would not change the military balance in the region.
Harpoon missiles are capable of hitting ships and land targets. Boeing says the missile uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) inertial navigation system and delivers a 500-pound warhead. It can target coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, exposed aircraft, ships in ports, and industrial facilities.
Earlier on Monday, China said it would impose sanctions on Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other US defense companies for supplying weapons to Taiwan.
The ruling Communist Party demands that Taiwan, which broke away from the mainland in 1949 during a civil war, is part of its territory and has threatened to invade. Washington promised in the 1980s to reduce and eventually end arms sales to Taiwan, but insists that its dispute with Beijing should be settled peacefully.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not provide any details on what sanctions might be imposed or when.
“In order to protect national interests, China decided to impose sanctions on American companies that were involved in arms sales to Taiwan,” Zhao said.
Sino-US relations have plummeted to their lowest level in decades amid disputes over security, technology, the coronavirus pandemic and human rights.
Taiwan has always been a nuisance in relations. Washington does not have formal relations with the island’s democratically elected government, but it is its main ally. US law requires the government to guarantee Taiwan’s ability to defend itself. Arms sales to the island have increased in quantity and quality.
Beijing is regularly pressing US companies, including Boeing, to try to influence US policy. China is one of Boeing’s largest markets for commercial aircraft, which could make it vulnerable to a boycott, but Zhao only mentioned Boeing’s military arm, Boeing Defense, and not the civil aircraft business.
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