WASHINGTON– The US State Department has approved the sale of an anti-tank minelaying system to Taiwan in the face of the growing military threat from China.
The ministry said Wednesday that the Volcano system and all related equipment would cost about $180 million.
It is capable of dispersing anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from a ground vehicle or helicopter, the type of weapon some experts believe Taiwan needs most to deter or repel a possible Chinese invasion.
To announce the threat, the Chinese military has sent 71 planes and seven ships to Taiwan in a 24-hour show of force directed against the self-governing island it claims is its own territory, China’s Defense Ministry said Monday. Taiwan.
China’s military harassment of Taiwan has intensified in recent years, alongside rhetoric from top leaders that the island has no choice but to accept potential Chinese rule.
This has seen the increasingly powerful military wing of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army, send planes or ships to the island almost daily.
Between 06:00 a.m. Sunday and 06:00 a.m. Monday, 47 of the Chinese planes crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial border once tacitly accepted by both sides, according to the Defense Ministry.
It came after China expressed anger over Taiwan-related provisions in an annual US defense spending bill, in what has become standard Chinese practice.
China conducted large-scale live-fire military exercises in August in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Beijing sees foreign government visits to the island as a de facto recognition of Taiwan’s independence and a challenge to China’s claim to sovereignty.
While Washington only has unofficial ties with Taiwan in deference to Beijing, these include robust defense swaps and military sales.
In its announcement, the State Department said the sale of Volcano “serves the national, economic, and security interests of the United States by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a credible defensive capability.”
He said Taiwan would have “no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces” and that the sale “would not change the basic military balance in the region.”
Analysts differ on what Taiwan’s defense priorities should be, with some calling for big-ticket items such as advanced fighter jets.
Others argue for a more flexible force, heavily armed with land-based missile systems to target enemy ships, planes and landing craft. China’s overwhelming numerical advantage in personnel and equipment leaves Taiwan with no choice but to opt for this more “asymmetrical” approach, they say.