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F-16 equipment sale to Taiwan OK'd by US

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 26 ------ United States President Joe Biden's administration has approved a $500-million arms sale to Taiwan as it ramps up military assistance to the East Asian island despite ferocious objections from China.

The US State Department said on Wednesday it had signed off on the sale of infrared search tracking systems, as well as related equipment, for advanced F-16 fighter jets. Test support and equipment, computer software, and spare parts are also part of the package, it added. Although the deal is modest in comparison to previous weapons sales, the move is likely to draw fierce criticism from Beijing, which regards self-governing Taiwan as a renegade province and refuses to rule out the use of force to reunify it with the mainland.

"This proposed sale serves US national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient's continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability," the State Department said in a statement. "The proposed sale will improve the recipient's capability to meet current and future threats by contributing to the recipient's abilities to defend its airspace, provide regional security, and increase interoperability with the United States through its F-16 program," it added.

The announcement came just hours after Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen renewed a pledge to strengthen Taipei's self-defense as she visited a memorial in the Kinmen islands for Taiwanese soldiers who lost their lives in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis 65 years ago. That was the last time China and Taiwan fought. The State Department's announcement also follows China's angry reaction to Taiwanese deputy leader William Lai's stopovers in the US before heading to and after leaving Paraguay to attend President Santiago Peña's inauguration last week.

In recent years, China has stepped up its military activity in the waters and skies around Taiwan, sending fighter jets and navy vessels near the island or to encircle it.



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