A Taiwanese Air Force F-16V fighter jet lands on a highway used as an emergency runway during a military exercise in Changhua, Taiwan May 28, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)
The United States is reportedly moving forward with three advanced weapons sales to Taiwan in a move that is likely to enrage China and increase tensions between the two world powers.
Back in September, Reuters reported that the administration of President Donald Trump was pushing for the sale of seven large packages of weapons to Taiwan.
The packages, including long-range air-to-ground missiles, would be one of the largest weapons sales to the self-ruled island in recent years.
On Monday, the White House provided an informal notification of the proposed sales to congress for approval, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Monday.
The notifications were of three of the seven planned weapons sales, including cruise missiles that are fired from aircraft and are designed to strike ground targets, external sensor pods for F-16 jets and a long-range rocket artillery system that can strike targets up to 190 miles away.
The three weapons had already been approved by the state department which oversees weapons sales.
Notifications of the sale of other weapons systems, the report said, are expected to be delivered to congress soon.
"As a matter of policy, the United States does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress," Reuters quoted a state department spokesman as saying.
The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, to whom the informal notification was sent, have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the department sends its formal notification to congress.
In a reaction to the reports, the Chinese embassy in Washington called on the Trump administration to stop arms sales to and military ties with Taiwan, "lest it should gravely harm China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability."
"China consistently and firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and has firm resolve in upholding its sovereignty and security," an embassy representative said in a statement.
China, which considers Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland, firmly opposes any relations between Washington and Taipei.
Under the internationally-recognized "One China" policy, almost all world countries - including the US - recognize Chinese sovereignty over the self-ruled island.
The US, which, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, has been pressing Taiwan to further build up its military so it can face what it calls threats from China.
Washington is the islandís largest weapons supplier and an avid backer of Taiwanís secessionist president Tsai Ing-wen.
Beijing, however, describes the weapons sales as a violation of Chinaís sovereignty.
Washingtonís latest move came as Trump and his reelection campaign are trying to portrait the president as tough on China in the run-up to the November 3 election.
The move, according to analysts, is part of an effort to divert the Americanís attention from the Trump administrationís failures on the coronavirus pandemic and the economy as well.