Late in the day Monday the US State Department formally approved sails of $2.37 billion in advanced weapons, namely Coastal Missile Defense Systems and related hardware to Taiwan.
And on Tuesday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense chief Mark Esper were in India meeting with their counterparts, reportedly discussing military satellite information sharing as well as Chinese aggression in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is a major regional nuclear armed power that Washington sees as key in humbling Chinese ambitions. Pompeo’s statements articulated this precisely:
“The United States will stand with the people of India as they confront threats to their freedom and sovereignty.” Pompeo said in specific reference to the Chinese Communist Party. “Our leaders and our citizens see with increasing clarity that the CCP is no friend to democracy, the rule of law, transparency, nor to freedom of navigation — the foundation of a free and open and prosperous Indo-Pacific.”
Esper’s remarks after signing a key defense agreement with India, which importantly comes amid the Himalayan border standoff and tensions between New Delhi and Beijing, also highlighted the importance of a united front against China:
During a press conference Tuesday in the Indian capital, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh announced the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), enabling greater information-sharing and further defense cooperation between the two countries.
“The defense ties between our two nations remains a key pillar of our overall bilateral relationship,” Esper said. “Based on our shared values and common interests, we stand shoulder to shoulder in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific for all, particularly in light of increasing aggression and destabilizing activities by China.”
No doubt this will raise tensions surrounding what Beijing sees as the most immediate threat of Taiwan’s independence. It’s lately been accusing the US of undermining the longtime status quo ‘One China’ policy which has kept relative peace and order in the region.
Pompeo, Esper to Push Trump’s Anti-China Message in India https://t.co/n6ysdBmJYm
— Military.com (@Militarydotcom) October 25, 2020
China’s response to the US approval of the coastal defense missile sales to Taiwan came in state media as follows:
Chinese mainland experts warned that although these missiles won’t be able to threaten the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) effectively, this is a greater provocation than in the past, as the weapons are not for self-defense but can reach the coastal regions of the mainland.
China urged the US to stop the relevant arms sales and military connections with the island, and cancel relevant arms sale plans to prevent further damage to China-US relations, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a routine press conference on Tuesday, noting that “China will take legitimate and necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests with firm determination.”
Following this on Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued its most threatening statement to date on the Taiwan issue.
The MoD statement assured that the Chinese PLA Army is fully capable of “defeating attempts to separate Taiwan” in a message unmistakably meant to put the US on notice that it would mean certain war.