Amid rising US-China tensions, Washington has approved the possible sale of 18 MK-48 Mod6 Advanced Technology Heavy Weight Torpedoes to Taiwan valued at approximately $180 million.
The variant of the torpedo being sold to Taiwan by the US includes advanced sonar and technologies to lower detection, including quieting systems, according to manufacturer Raytheon.
Taiwan embassy in Washington requested for the purchase, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement. If the deal clears the congressional review, it will include the torpedoes, spare parts, support and test equipment, training, and technical and logistical support.
There will not be a third-party supplier for the armaments as they will come directly from the Navy’s stockpiles, according to the agency.
The proposed sale of torpedoes comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greeted Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on her recent inauguration, a move that prompted China to warn of “counter-measures” in response. Undeterred, Pompeo hours later touted Taiwan as maturing “into a model for the world.”
“Despite great pressure from the outside, Taiwan has shown the wisdom of giving people a voice and a choice,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department while taking a dig at China.
China’s foreign ministry said that Pompeo has severely damaged the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and China-U.S. relations by making a congratulatory statement to Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-Wen. China will take necessary countermeasures and the U.S. must bear the consequences, the ministry said in a statement.
Ties between the U.S. and China are at an all-time low as Trump administration has repeatedly blamed China for the coronavirus pandemic and its mismanagement.
Tensions between the US and China have also intensified over Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan a ‘renegade province’ but Taipei has affirmed its independence since 1949 and the US has vowed to protect its ally from China.