WASHINGTON --- The United States is pursuing the sale of more than $2 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 U.S. Congress, the four sources said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the possible deal.
The potential sale included 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2 Abrams tanks worth around $2 billion as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft munitions, three of the sources said. Taiwan has been interested in refreshing its existing U.S.-made battle tank inventory which includes M60 Patton tanks.
The United States is a 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 United States was responding positively to Taipei’s requests for new arms sales to bolster its defenses in the face of pressure from China. The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan, but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.
China and the United States are engaged in a fierce trade war, with clashes over Taiwan and the South China Sea exacerbating tensions.
A spokesman for the State Department, which oversees foreign military sales, said the U.S. government does not comment on or confirm potential or pending arms sales or transfers before they have been formally notified to Congress. (end of excerpt)
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