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US okays $1.1bn arms sale to Taiwan, vexes China

US officials had been considering revoking the tariffs, citing the need to ease inflation.

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Washington: The US has agreed to sell $1.1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan, provoking China. The proposed deal includes a radar system to track incoming strikes and anti-ship and anti-air missiles, an official said.

The arms sale agreed on Friday still needs to be voted on by the strongly pro-Taiwan US Congress.

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The move comes after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month became the most senior US official in 25 years to visit Taipei.

The Chinese embassy in Washington called on the US to revoke the deal or face “counter-measures”, the BBC reported.

Spokesman Liu Pengyu said the deal “severely jeopardizes” relations between Washington and Beijing. “China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation,” he added.

Beijing sees the self-ruled island as a part of its territory and insists it should be unified with the mainland, by force if necessary. It launched large-scale military drills around Taiwan last month, following Pelosi’s visit.

The US arms package includes a $655 million radar warning system and $355 million for 60 Harpoon missiles, which are capable of sinking ships. Besides $85.6 million for Sidewinder surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

BBC quoted a spokesperson for the Department of State saying the deal was “essential for Taiwan’s security”, and called on Beijing “to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue”.

“These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the spokesperson said.

US lawmakers say that orders placed by Taiwan years ago have gone unfulfilled. Among the backlog are Harpoon and Stinger missiles, which have been sent to Ukraine instead, according to Defense News.

In another move likely to irk Beijing, the Biden administration said it would keep in place, for now, billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese imports that were enacted during the Trump administration.

The US Trade Representative’s office said it had received requests to maintain the 2018-19 duties from businesses and other interested parties.

US officials had been considering revoking the tariffs, citing the need to ease inflation.

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