BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 P.M.) – The United States announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to sell 18 heavy Mk-48 torpedoes to Taiwan in a deal valued at $180 million.
The sale of these heavy missiles to Taiwan is expected to anger China amid heightened tensions between the two superpowers over a number of issues, including the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Announcing the deal, the US State Department said: “Supplying Taiwan with these torpedoes serves the economic and security interests of the United States by helping (Taiwan) modernize its armed forces and maintaining a reliable defense capability.”
“This deal will also contribute to maintaining political stability, balance of power and economic progress in the region,” the statement added.
The United States regards the strengthening of Taiwan’s military capabilities as a strategic priority, as it is aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.
These 18 torpedoes designed for launch from submarines are, according to the U.S. State Department statement, present in the stores of the U.S. Navy and therefore do not need to request them from suppliers.
The torpedo deal is expected to infuriate Beijing.
The deal covers, according to the Taiwanese press, the sale of Taipei of equipment to French frigates that the Taiwanese navy purchased in the 1990s and at the time caused a diplomatic crisis between France and China.
Beijing regards Taiwan as an inalienable part of Chinese territory, and has repeatedly vowed to wrest the island by force if necessary.