West News Wire: The administration of President Joe Biden has approved a new arms sale to Taiwan, which includes armored vehicle parts and technical support, potentially escalating tensions with China over the breakaway state.

According to the Pentagon on Friday, the US State Department granted Taiwan’s request for the up to $108 million transaction. The US government and its contractors will provide technical and logistical support services, as well as tank and other combat vehicle parts, as part of the broad order.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said: “We express sincere gratitude to the State Department for approving the order. It also stated that the agreement is based on the “Six Assurances” principles, which stipulate that Washington must assist Taipei in defending itself, as well as the “Six Assurances” principles, under which the US pledged to make arms sales to Taiwan without consulting China. The principles also include commitments not to formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and to refrain from pressuring Taipei into negotiations with Beijing.

The latest arms deal will enhance the Taiwanese military’s interoperability with American forces and other allies, according to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency. “The proposed sale will contribute to the sustainment of the recipient’s vehicles, small arms, combat weapon systems, and logistical support items, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” the agency said.

Taiwanese officials have warned of an “expanding military threat” from China, which has left open the possibility of reunification by force. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province and part of China’s sovereign territory.

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“We can’t leave Taiwan independent,” Chinese ambassador to France Lu Shaye said in an interview last month. “We’ll retake Taiwan by all means, including military ones. If we can’t reunify the country by peaceful means, what else are we left to do?” He also accused the US of stirring tensions around Taiwan, just as he said it did around Ukraine, provoking a military conflict with Russia.

Taiwan and Ukraine have apparently become competing priorities for the US. In May, Taiwanese defense officials were forced to seek other options after the Pentagon delayed delivery of $750 million in howitzer systems by three years amid surging weapons shipments to Kiev.

The US has long urged Taiwan to modernize its defenses under a “porcupine” strategy designed to make the island tougher for China to swallow. However, reacting to the latest arms sale on Friday, US-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers argued that Biden’s administration apparently no longer sees force modernization as a priority.

China’s military “will naturally focus on these emerging vulnerabilities as they adapt to the shortcomings of US policy,” Hammond-Chambers said. “The US-Taiwan Business Council again calls on the Biden administration to provide strategic clarity on where US forces will fill gaps in Taiwan’s defense.”

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