Amid the growing military threat from China, the U.S. State Department has approved the sale of an anti-tank mine-laying system to Taiwan.
On Wednesday, the government calculated that the Volcano system and its associated equipment would cost $180 million.
Some experts believe Taiwan needs more of this kind of weapon to deter or fight a hypothetical Chinese invasion since it can spread anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from either a ground vehicle or helicopter.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported Monday that during a 24-hour show of force against the self-governing island it claims as its own territory, China’s military flew 71 planes and seven ships toward Taiwan to broadcast that threat.
In recent years, China‘s military intimidation of Taiwan has increased coupled with statements from top authorities that the island is forced to submit to Chinese authority in the long run.
As a result, the People’s Liberation Army, a militarily potent arm of the ruling Communist Party, has been sending ships or planes to the island almost every day.
47 of the Chinese aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait median between 6 a.m. on Sunday and 6 a.m. on Monday, the Defense Ministry reported. This is an unofficial line that was once implicitly acknowledged by both sides.
That followed China‘s outburst over Taiwan-related clauses in a U.S. defense budget measure, which has become routine Chinese procedure.
In reaction to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August, China carried out extensive live-fire military drills. Beijing sees foreign delegations visiting the island as a challenge to China’s claim of sovereignty and a de facto acceptance of Taiwan’s independence.
In deference to Beijing, Washington only maintains informal connections with Taiwan, but these ties are strong and involve arms sales and defense exchanges.
The Volcano sale “serves U.S. national, economic, and security objectives by supporting the recipient’s continuous efforts to upgrade its military forces and to preserve a credible defensive capability,” the State Department stated in its release.
It said the sale would “not alter the basic military balance in the region” and that Taiwan would “no trouble assimilate this equipment into its armed forces.”
Analysts have different opinions about what Taiwan’s defense priority should be, with some advocating expensive goods like cutting-edge fighter jets.
Others support a more adaptable force that is well-equipped with land-based missile weapons to take aim at enemy ships, aircraft, and landing craft. According to them, Taiwan was forced to choose that more “asymmetric” strategy because to China‘s massive numerical advantage in soldiers and equipment.