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US clears more arms sales to Taiwan as China slaps sanctions on US companies

Harpoon missile
US Navy sailors load a Harpoon missile on cruiser USS Chosin. Photo: US Navy

The US State Department has approved further arms sales to Taiwan as China is sanctioning US defense contractors involved in weapons exports to the island.

In an announcement on October 26, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the state department has approved a possible sale of up to 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.37 billion.

The announcement follows an earlier one from October 21, when the agency said an estimated $1.8 billion worth of HIMARS systems, AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, and long-range reconnaissance pods for F-16 fighters, had been approved for sale to Taiwan.

This prompted a reaction from China, whose foreign ministry said it would sanction Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon over the arms sales.

“We deplore Beijing’s efforts to retaliate against US and foreign companies for their sales that support Taiwan’s legitimate self-defence requirements,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in reaction to China’s announcement.

The October 26 approval includes Harpoon coastal defense systems (HCDS) consisting of up to 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II surface launched missiles, and 4 exercise missiles. Also included are containers, transporter units, radar trucks and related equipment. Prime contractor would be Boeing.

“This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses. The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults,” DSCA said in the announcement.

China considers Taiwan one of its break-away provinces, but the US says it is bound by law to provide the island with defense articles for self protection.