The US risks more tensions with China over the arms deal with Taiwan.
Taiwan is a self-ruling state which China claims as a part of its territory under the ‘One China’ policy. The United States did not challenge the position of ‘One China’ policy, first stated in 1972 until December 6, 2017, when President Trump said that the US is not necessarily bound by the policy. If the sale of spare parts for F-16 fighter jets and other military aircraft are finalized, it will be the second significant arms sale to Taiwan in two years, by the Trump administration.
The U.S Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified lawmakers that the U.S. Department of State has approved a possible sale of military aircraft replacements parts to Taiwan worth $330 million. The proposed deal covers parts for Taiwan’s “F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defence Fighter, all other aircraft systems and subsystems, and other related elements of logistics and program support”.
The Trump administration has shown its support for the government of Taipei amidst rising tensions to resist China’s encroaching expansionism. Taiwan’s presidential office has welcomed the move, stating that it will improve the island’s ability to defend itself and boost confidence in facing security challenges from Beijing.
According to DSCA statement, the proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient, which has been and continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region. Congress has 30 days to raise objections to the sale.
Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis during a visit to Beijing in June that Beijing was committed to peace, but could not give up "even one inch" of territory that the country's ancestors had left behind. The sale would be the second US weapons agreement with Taiwan since Donald Trump took office, previously it agreed to a $1.4bn deal in June 2017 that prompted anger from Beijing.
Our assessment is that the arms deal marks the sign of a reaffirmation of ties between Taipei and Washington and more importantly that the US is signalling its intent to confront China. We believe that this move may further escalate the tension between the US and China. We feel that the relationship between the US and China has become estranged after the import tariffs came into effect and further compounded after the US sanctioned China for the purchase of Russian warplanes.