U.S. Approves Sale of 18 Heavy Torpedoes to Taiwan

  • This move by the United States is expected to further exacerbate already tense relations between Washington and Beijing.
  • President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized in her inaugural speech that she will continue to adhere to the "peace, reciprocity, democracy, and dialogue" policy.
  • Mike Pompeo became the first U.S. Secretary of State to send an official congratulatory message to a president of Taiwan.

The US government announced on Wednesday that it has approved the sale of 18 MK-48 heavy torpedoes to Taiwan at a price of $180 million. This advanced heavy torpedo can be launched from a submarine with a range of up to 38 kilometers. Taiwan currently owns two “Sea Dragon” class submarines that can carry and launch such heavy torpedoes.

Tsai Ing-wen is a Taiwanese politician and former academic who is currently serving as the President of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, since May 20, 2016. The first woman to be elected to the office, Tsai is the seventh president of the Republic of China under the 1947 Constitution and the second president from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP); part of Taiwan’s Pan-Green Coalition.

“This proposed sale serves U.S. 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 Defense Security Cooperation Agency noted in a statement. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”

Chinese netizens were furious about the sale of powerful torpedoes by the United States, and Chinese people clamored for a response. Some people even opened their minds and said, “can the United States sell ships to Taiwan (such as M1A2)? Can we send warships to intercept Xiamen Port? With permission to transport arms to Chinese territory, we will only run our jurisdiction normally.”

This move by the United States is expected to further exacerbate already tense relations between Washington and Beijing. Previously, Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, emphasized in her inaugural speech that she will continue to adhere to the “peace, reciprocity, democracy, and dialogue” policy in cross-strait relations. She also will not allow the mainland to dwarf Taiwan with “One Country, Two Systems.”

Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, subsequently stated that the Democratic Progressive Party’s authorities refused to recognize the “92 Consensus” embodying the one-China principle. Tsai’s party unilaterally undermined the political foundation for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

Ma also said that China will adhere to the basic policy of peaceful reunification, and One Country, Two Systems. Further, China is willing to create a broad space for peaceful reunification, but will never leave any room for various forms of Taiwan independence, separatist activities.

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia. With 23.7 million inhabitants, Taiwan is among the most densely populated states, and is the most populous state and largest economy that is not a member of the United Nations (UN).

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter to congratulate Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration. Pompeo became the first U.S. Secretary of State to send an official congratulatory message to a president of Taiwan.

This triggered the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and the Taiwan Affairs Office to criticize Pompeo’s move as a serious violation of the “One China” principle and the three Sino-US joint communique on Wednesday. The letter seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, they said. The ministries expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.

In response to the arms sale, military expert Mei Fuxing said on the Facebook fan page that this type of torpedo had agreed to be sold at the end of June 2017. There is nothing new to say, and because it is an increase in the sale of previously approved weapons and equipment, it is limited to one case and the amount is not too large. Although political sensitivity cannot be said to be absent, the stimulus is indeed not high.

However, Mei Fuxing also revealed that according to insiders in the Washington circle, these torpedoes should be used in conjunction with the first IDS ship made by “submarine country.” He believes that although the statement is still difficult to confirm, the delivery time of the two Cheng seems quite consistent and should have some credibility.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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