US announces $2.4bn sale of coastal defence systems to Taiwan

Deal follows last week's $1bn missile deal

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2020, file photo, Lockheed Martin's Robert Balserak, Lead Executive, Air Superiority Programs, explains the capabilities of the F-21 at the DefExpo in Lucknow, India. China's government said Monday, Oct. 26, 2020, it will impose sanctions on U.S. military contractors including Boeing Co.'s defense unit and Lockheed Martin Corp. for supplying weapons to rival Taiwan, stepping up a feud with Washington over security and Beijing's strategic ambitions. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)
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The US on Monday announced it had approved a $2.4 billion sale of 100 Harpoon coastal defence systems to Taiwan.

It follows Washington's $1bn missile deal last week with the island.

The Harpoon sale "will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and progress in the region", the State Department said.

The deal involves 100 Harpoon Coastal Defence Systems, which include 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II surface-launched missiles with a maximum range of 120 kilometres.

The missiles, made by Boeing, can be placed on fixed platforms or mounted on trucks.

Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by China, whose leaders consider it to be part of their territory.

Beijing has increased diplomatic and military pressure on Taiwan since the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who regards the island as independent.

Chinese fighter jets and bombers have entered Taiwan's air defence zone with increasing frequency in recent months, while propaganda films have shown simulated attacks on territory similar to the island.

Last Wednesday, the US said it had approved the  sale of 135 precision-guided, air-launched AGM-84H Slam-er cruise missiles.

Unlike the Harpoon, they have a range greater than the width of the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China.

In response, Beijing on Monday said it would impose sanctions on Lockheed Martin, a Boeing defence division and other US firms involved the arms sale.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the sanctions were to protect national interests" and would apply to those who "behaved badly in the process of arms sales to Taiwan".

Under the administration of President Donald Trump the US has brought Taiwan into play as part of a wider diplomatic and economic squeeze of rival China, sending high-level envoys and boosting arms sales.