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Biden administration to ask Congress to approve $1.1B arms sale to Taiwan

The Biden administration plans to formally ask Congress to approve an estimated $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the package.

The news comes as China continues to send warships and aircraft into the Taiwan Strait on a daily basis, just weeks after Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island and condemned Beijing’s attempts to isolate and intimidate Taiwan. In response to Pelosi’s visit, Beijing launched massive, unprecedented military drills around Taiwan that involved shooting missiles over the island for the first time.

The package, which is still in an early stage, includes 60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles for $355 million, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles for $85.6 million, and $655.4 million for a surveillance radar contract extension, the sources said. The Sidewinder missiles will arm Taipei’s U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets.

Once the Biden administration formalizes the notification, the Democratic chair and ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will need to sign off on the sale before it can be finalized. The lawmakers are likely to approve the sale, but the process could drag out given the ongoing congressional recess.

Representatives for both committees did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Fears have grown in recent years that China is positioning itself to take Taiwan by military force based on its belief that the island is part of China. In response, the U.S. and other Western nations have sought to bolster Taiwan’s defenses and praise its vibrant democracy, in stark contrast to Beijing’s authoritarianism.

The U.S. has maintained its adherence to the so-called One China policy outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, which stipulates that the U.S. would not establish formal diplomatic relations with Taipei.

The TRA also created the “strategic ambiguity” doctrine whereby the U.S. remains purposely noncommittal about whether it would militarily defend Taiwan against an invasion. Lawmakers in both parties have pushed to scrap that policy as Taiwan faces increasingly belligerent threats and intimidation tactics from China’s military.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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