U.S. to sell Taiwan anti-tank system as China threatens to intensify

washington – The US State Department has approved the sale of an anti-tank mining system to Taiwan amid rising military threats from China.

The volcano system and all associated equipment will cost an estimated $180 million, the department said Wednesday.

It is capable of dispensing anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from ground vehicles or helicopters, a weapon that some experts believe Taiwan needs more of to deter or repel a potential Chinese invasion.

To promote the threat, the Chinese military sent 71 aircraft and seven ships to Taiwan within 24 hours in a show of force against the self-governing islands it claims as its territory, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.

China’s military harassment of Taiwan has intensified in recent years, with top leaders saying the island has no choice but to accept eventual Chinese rule.

The People’s Liberation Army, the increasingly powerful military arm of the ruling Communist Party, sends planes or ships to the island almost daily.

From 6 a.m. Sunday to 6 a.m. Monday, 47 Chinese aircraft flew over the center line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial border that was once tacitly accepted by both sides, according to the Defense Ministry.

China has previously expressed anger over the Taiwan-related provisions of the annual U.S. defense spending bill, which has become standard practice for China.

In response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China held a large-scale live-fire drill in August. Beijing views foreign government visits to the island as de facto recognition of Taiwan’s independence and a challenge to China’s claims to sovereignty.

While Washington has only unofficial relations with Taiwan out of deference to Beijing, that includes robust defense exchanges and arms sales.

In its announcement, the State Department said the sale of the Volcano “is in the national, economic and security interests of the United States by supporting the recipient’s continued efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a credible defense capability.”

It said Taiwan would “absorb this equipment into its armed forces without difficulty” and that the sale “would not change the fundamental military balance in the region”.

Analysts are divided on what Taiwan’s defense priorities should be, with some calling for big-ticket purchases such as advanced fighter jets.

Others advocate a more mobile force with heavily armed land-based missile systems to target enemy ships, aircraft and landing craft. China’s overwhelming numerical superiority in personnel and equipment leaves Taiwan with no choice but to choose a more “asymmetric” approach, they said.

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