The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of an anti-tank mine-laying system to Taiwan amid the increasing military threat from China.
The state department on Thursday, December 29 said the Volcano system and all related equipment would cost an estimated $180 million.
In its announcement, it said the Volcano sale “serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”
It said Taiwan would have “no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces,” and that the sale would “not alter the basic military balance in the region.”
The system is capable of scattering anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from either a ground vehicle or helicopter.
On Monday, China’s military sent 71 planes and seven ships toward Taiwan in a 24-hour display of force directed at the self-ruled island it claims is its own territory, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
China’s military harassment of Taiwan has intensified in recent years, along with rhetoric from top leaders that the island has no choice but to accept eventual control by China, leading the People’s Liberation Army to send planes or ships toward the island on a near-daily basis.
Between 6 a.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday, 47 of the Chinese planes crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial boundary once accepted by both sides, according to the Defense Ministry.
China conducted large-scale live-fire military exercises in August in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. Beijing views visits from foreign governments to the island as de facto recognition of Taiwan as independent and a challenge to China’s claim of sovereignty.