World

US prepares to sell over $2.7b in arms to Taiwan: Sources

WASHINGTON : The US is pursuing the sale of more than US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) worth of tanks and weapons to Taiwan, four people familiar with the negotiations said, in a move likely to anger China as a trade war between the world's two biggest economies escalates.

An informal notification of the proposed sale has been sent to the US Congress, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The potential sale included 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2 Abrams tanks worth around US$2 billion as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions.

Taiwan has been interested in refreshing its existing US-made battle tank inventory, which includes M60 Patton tanks.

The US is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems its own and has never renounced the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in March that the US was responding positively to Taipei's requests for new arms sales to bolster its defences in the face of pressure from China.

China and the US are engaged in a fierce trade war, with clashes over Taiwan and the South China Sea exacerbating tensions.

The congressional notifications included a variety of anti-tank munitions, including 409 Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp-made Javelin missiles worth as much as US$129 million, two sources said.

The notifications also included 1,240 TOW anti-tank missiles worth as much as US$299 million, one of the sources said. There were also 250 stinger missiles worth as much as US$223 million in the notification, the source said.

Stingers are often used in portable anti-aircraft weapons systems.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry confirmed it had requested those weapons and that the request was proceeding normally.- REUTERS

WORLD