Taiwan faces daily military threats from “authoritarian forces”, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, as the United States announced a new $280m arms sale package to Taiwan, the sixth this year.
The outgoing Trump administration has ramped up support for the democratic island, with 11 arms sale packages in total and on Monday notified Congress of its plans to sell a new Field Information Communications System (FICS) to Taiwan.
The system is designed to provide mobile and secure communications on the island and is part of Taiwan’s goal to modernise its military communications.
Such sales have angered China, adding to the existing tension between Beijing and Washington, with China placing sanctions on US companies involved and stepping up its military activities near Taiwan, including regular air force missions.
Speaking at a security forum in Taipei, Tsai noted the threats in the region, including the “increasingly militarised” South China Sea, where China has built artificial islands with air and naval facilities claiming almost the entire area under its so-called “nine-dash line”.
The Ministry of National Defense details almost daily incursions into Taiwan’s airspace by Chinese aircraft. In September, China reportedly threatened or entered into Taiwan’s airspace 46 times in the past nine days, it said.
“Fly overs are happening almost every day now. Sometimes it’s electronic intelligence planes escorted by fighters, sometimes they’re anti-submarine warfare planes,” Liao “Kitsch” Yen-Fan, a security analyst at the Institute of National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said the latest weapons sale demonstrated that the US commitment to helping strengthen the island’s defence capabilities remained unchanged.
“Taiwan and the United States will continue to consolidate their security partnership to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” it said.
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