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Taiwan is due to get millions worth of spare parts for its fighter jets from the US. With the Trump administration and Beijing already locking horns over a trade war, the military sale is likely to exacerbate tensions.
US President Donald Trump's administration approved a military sale to Taiwan totaling $330 million (€281 million), officials announced on Monday.
The pending sale involves spare parts for several of Taiwan's military aircraft, including its F-16 fighter jets and C-130 cargo plane, the State Department said in a statement.
The Pentagon defended the sale, saying the sale will help "contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security and defensive capability of the recipient."
US Congress still has 30 days to raise any objections about the deal. However, the sale is likely to go through, as the Pentagon believes that Taiwan "continues to be an important force for political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region."
The bulk of Taiwan's military is equipped with mainly US-made weapons, with the self-ruling island urging Washington to sell Taipei more advanced equipment, including new jets.
Ramping up tensions with China
With China and the US already embroiled in trade tensions, the latest military deal with Taiwan will likely further sour things between the two nations.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory under Beijing's "One China" policy. As such, China opposes US military sales to Taiwan.
The move could also smack of hypocrisy, considering that the Trump administration recently sanctioned a branch of China's military over their purchase of Russian military equipment.
The announcement of the sale also occurred the same day as the Trump administration's tariffs against Chinese goods came into effect. The tariffs amount to some $250 billion in China's US exports.
The United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but must adhere to a US law requiring that Taiwan has the means to defend itself.
rs/jm (AP, AFP; Reuters)