Washington Approves $100 Patriot Million Missile Sale to Taiwan: With tensions with China continuing to be high, the United States State Department has approved a $100 million dollar support contract with Taiwan aimed at upgrading the island’s Patriot missile defense systems.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said they had delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the possible sale via the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, the defacto Taiwan Embassy in Washington, who had asked to buy the services to support its participation in the International Engineering Services Program and Field Surveillance Program for the next five years.
The funds are designed to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the Patriot missile defense system, the statement said.
Why Taiwan Wants Patriot Missile Defense Upgrades
The DSCA said in their statement that the improvements to the Patriot Air Defense System would “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”
“This proposed sale serves U.S. 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 DSCA added.
The Patriot Missile International Engineering Program (IESP) will include engineering services support, designed to sustain, maintain, and improve the Patriot Air Defense System while providing missile field surveillance support for legacy (Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM)) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles, designed to ensure the reliability and performance of the Patriot missiles.
Taiwan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry reported that they had received the official notification of the approval of the sale by the US government. In a released statement, the ministry said that Taiwan “highly welcomes” the decision by Washington and expressed its gratitude to the US government for its “commitment to Taiwan’s security,”
“In the face of China’s continued military expansion and provocative actions, our country will maintain its national security with a solid defense, and continue to deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States,”,” the ministry added.
The Patriot Missile Upgrade Deal Was a Longtime Coming
The decision to purchase newer Patriot missiles by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry was made during a 2019 meeting with US officials during the Trump administration. The deal is expected to come into effect within a month, Taiwanese officials said.
China, which views Taiwan as part of its country, has never had good relations with the island since the Chinese Civil War in 1949, where Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek were defeated by Communist forces under Mao Zedong. But since the election of Tsai Ing-wen in 2016, they have really stepped up their pressure on the island.
While the Chinese seem committed to the long game of being patient about regaining control of the island, they have also rattled their saber and have not ruled out taking the island by force. They frequently send military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone.
China Won’t Be Happy
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian condemned the sale and offered a veiled threat.
“China will take appropriate and forceful measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests,” he said in a press conference.
When he was pressed on how China would react, Zhao said: “I wish to ask everyone to wait and see”.
Late last month, the Chinese Ambassador to the United States said that if the United States continued their support for Taiwan, then the two superpowers could end up in conflict.
“If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely (will) involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in a military conflict,” he said.
While the US doesn’t officially recognize Taipei under the “One China Policy”, they also have committed to the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act where they provide Taipei with the means to defend itself.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 1945, he covers the NFL for PatsFans.com and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.