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The Taiwanese ship ROCS Chi Kuang launches a missile May 27, 2022, during an annual training event east of Taiwan in the Philippine Sea.

The Taiwanese ship ROCS Chi Kuang launches a missile May 27, 2022, during an annual training event east of Taiwan in the Philippine Sea. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense)

WASHINGTON — The United States approved a sale of $120 million in warship parts to Taiwan in a move that drew the ire of China during a Chinese Foreign Ministry news briefing Thursday.

The State Department on Wednesday announced it approved a possible foreign military sale to the independently governed island of Taiwan. The deal would include “ship spare parts, ship system spare parts and related equipment,” according to the announcement.

“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the State Department said. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”

The sale comes as tensions between the U.S. and China over Taiwan simmer. The U.S. continues to support Taiwan’s right to defend itself and adheres to the One China policy, which states the U.S. acknowledges that China claims control over Taiwan but the U.S. considers the island’s sovereignty unsettled.

Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949 and has its own democratically elected government.

“China firmly opposes and strongly condemns” the sale, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters Thursday.

“U.S. arms sales to China’s Taiwan region seriously violate the One China principle … gravely undermine China’s sovereignty and security interests, and severely harm China-U.S. relations, and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Zhao urged the U.S. to scrap the deal and threatened that China would “take resolute and strong measures to firmly defend its sovereignty and security interests.”

“The U.S. should abide by the One China principle … revoke the arms sales plan, and stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan,” he said.

The State Department in its announcement said the sale “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

“The proposed sale will contribute to the sustainment of the recipient’s surface vessel fleet, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” the department said. “The proposed sale will contribute to the recipient’s goal of maintaining its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies.”

Interoperability is the government’s term to describe two militaries being able to work together on each other’s systems and platforms.

The equipment will come from the Navy’s stock of parts and approved Navy vendors, according to the announcement.

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Caitlin Doornbos covers the Pentagon for Stars and Stripes after covering the Navy’s 7th Fleet as Stripes’ Indo-Pacific correspondent at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Previously, she worked as a crime reporter in Lawrence, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., where she was part of the Orlando Sentinel team that placed as finalist for the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. Caitlin has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas and master’s degree in defense and strategic studies from the University of Texas at El Paso.
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