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Taiwanese soldiers are seen holding grenade launchers and machine guns during a military exercise
The US says the arms sale would allow Taiwan to defend itself but would not upset regional power balancesImage: Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA/picture alliance

US sells anti-tank systems to Taiwan amid tension with China

December 29, 2022

The systems, worth $180 million, "serve US national, economic and security interests," the Pentagon said. The sale comes after China conducted one of its largest incursions into Taiwan-controlled airspace to date.


The US State Department has approved the sale of vehicle-launched anti-tank systems to Taiwan worth $180 million (€169 million), as tensions between Taipei and Beijing continue to rise.

The Pentagon said approval for the sale came late Wednesday and also includes Volcano anti-tank munition-laying systems, cargo trucks, ammunition and logistics support packages, among other services.

The Defense Department said the sale aims to serve "US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient's continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability."

The new anti-tank system is capable of scattering both anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from a ground vehicle or helicopter.

China argues that the self-ruled island is part of its territory and warns that US support for Taiwan would destabilize the region.

When announcing the sale, the US stressed that it will improve Taiwan's capability to meet current and future threats, but that it would not "alter the basic military balance in the region."

The sale comes days after China conducted one of its largest incursions into Taiwan-controlled airspace.

What did China do?

China deployed 71 warplanes including dozens of fighter jets over the weekend to conduct military exercises around the strait, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Forty-seven of the Chinese aircraft crossed the median line, an unofficial boundary once accepted by both sides.

The Chinese military said the exercises were in response to "provocations" and "collusion" between the US and Taiwan, describing them as a "strike drill."

Fighter jets of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conduct a joint combat training exercises around the Taiwan Island on Aug. 7, 2022.
The Chinese incursion crossed the median line and is believed to be one of its largest to dateImage: Gong Yulong/Xinhua/AP Photo/picture alliance

Beijing had earlier expressed anger at a US annual defense spending bill that included some Taiwan-related provisions.

One day later, Taiwan's president announced extending compulsory military service to one year from four months, saying that the current duration of service was insufficient.

Growing Taiwan-China tensions

Chinese pressure on the self-ruled island has been rising steadily in recent years.

Under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has increased pressure on Taiwan through military, political, and economic means as ties have worsened.

More than 1,700 such incursions have occurred so far this year, compared to 969 in 2021 and 146 in 2020, according to the AFP news agency.

The Taiwanese administration said it seeks peace but that it would defend itself if necessary.

Ties between Beijing and Taipei have been particularly tense since August when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. In retaliation for her visit, the Chinese military staged massive military exercises around the island.

Taiwan under increasing pressure from Chinese military: Ava Shen, Eurasia Group

rmt/sms (AFP, AP)

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