US State Department approves $8 billion fighter jet sale to Taiwan

Two US-made F-16 fighter jets are seen in a military drill in southern Taiwan, on May 30, 2019. (AFP photo)

The US State Department has approved a possible $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, one of the biggest arms deals between Washington and Taipei which is expected to increase tensions with China.

The potential deal is for 66 fighter jets, 75 General Electric Co engines, as well as other systems, the State Department said Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that President Donald Trump had authorized the proposed sale after Congress was notified last week.

China has already denounced the widely discussed arms deal with Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province. It has warned of unspecified “countermeasures.”

China has sovereignty over the island and almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty under the policy known as One China.

The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island, but it has long courted Taipei in an attempt to counter Beijing.

In a statement, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which oversees American foreign military sales, said Taiwan’s purchase of the war planes “will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

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