Obama administration authorizes $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Obama Approves $1.83 Billion Arms Sale to Taiwan

The Obama administration formally notified Congress on Wednesday of a $1.83 billion arms sale package for Taiwan, including two frigates, anti-tank missiles, amphibious assault vehicles and other equipment, drawing an angry response from China.

SEE ALSO:Clinton says she wants to go beyond 'Buffett rule' on taxes

The authorization, which Reuters on Monday reported was imminent, came a year after Congress passed legislation approving the sale. It is the first such major arms sale to Taiwan in more than four years.

The White House said there was no change in the longstanding U.S. "one China" policy. Past U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan have attracted strong condemnation in China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province.

The White House said the authorization followed previous sales notifications by the administration totaling over $12 billion under the Taiwan Relations Act.

"Our longstanding policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across six different U.S. administrations," a National Security Council spokesman, Myles Caggins, said. "We remain committed to our one-China policy," he added.

Although Washington does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, it is committed under the Taiwan Relations Act to ensuring Taipei can maintain a credible defense.

See photos of Taiwan's military:

14 PHOTOS
Taiwan military
See Gallery
Obama administration authorizes $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan
FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2015 file photo, Taiwan's military fire artillery from M110A2 self-propelled Howitzers during the annual Han Kuang exercises in Hsinchu, north eastern Taiwan. Taiwan's military is simulating attacks by political rival China this week, despite an overall warming of ties, after Beijing staged what appeared to be a strike against the presidential office in Taipei. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, File)
Taiwan's military rest behind self-propelled Howitzers during the annual Han Kuang exercises in Hsinchu, north eastern Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Taiwan's military is simulating attacks by political rival China this week, despite an overall warming of ties, after Beijing staged what appeared to be a strike against the presidential office in Taipei. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military fire artillery from M110A2 self-propelled Howitzers during the annual Han Kuang exercises in Hsinchu, north eastern Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. Taiwan's military is simulating attacks by political rival China this week, despite an overall warming of ties, after Beijing staged what appeared to be a strike against the presidential office in Taipei. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military starts its massive parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, with cannon salutes at the military base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, Saturday, July 4, 2015. Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military rappel from a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter in front of thousands of spectators in a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, at the military base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, Saturday, July 4, 2015. Taiwan's Saturday parade was aimed to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Communists who took over China, routed the Japanese in World War II. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military perform drills with colored smoke and fast attack vehicles in front of thousands of spectators in a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, at the military base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, Saturday, July 4, 2015. Taiwan's Saturday parade was aimed to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Communists who took over China, routed the Japanese in World War II. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military lands a Chinook transport helicopter during a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, at the military base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, Saturday, July 4, 2015. Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's military maneuver battle tanks in front of thousands of spectators in a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, at the military base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, Saturday, July 4, 2015. Taiwan marched out thousands of troops and displayed its most modern military hardware Saturday to spotlight an old but often forgotten claim that its forces, not the Chinese Communists, led the campaign that routed imperial Japan from China 70 years ago. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
FILE - In this Sept. 16, 2014 file photo, a Taiwan Air Force F-16 fighter jet takes off from a closed section of highway during the annual Han Kuang military exercises in Chiayi, central Taiwan. China on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015 strongly criticized an expected U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, saying it should be canceled to avoid harming relations between Taipei and Beijing. (AP Photo/Wally Santana, File)
Taiwan's navy launch a surface-to-air SM-2 missile from a Kidd class destroyer during the Hai-Biao (Sea Dart) annual exercises off the northeastern coast of Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Taiwan's navy Kidd class destroyer during the Hai-Biao (Sea Dart) annual exercises off the northeastern coast of Taiwan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Two Taiwanese IDF fighters fly over a Taiwanese Kidd-class destroyer during exercises off of the southern city of Kaohsiung,Taiwan Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday apologized to Taiwan for the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by Philippine coast guard personnel, after Taiwan rejected an earlier Philippine apology and started retaliating diplomatically. Taiwan is holding a two-day joint military exercise in the overlapping economic zones between Taiwan and the Philippines in protest to the lackluster reaction to the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
An AH-1W Attack Helicopter launches flares during Han Kuang military exercises in Penghu county, Taiwan, April 17, 2013. Taiwan has held its first large-scale live-fire military exercise in five years, as President Ma Ying-jeou called on soldiers to maintain their "sense of crisis" as China builds up its military. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

The sales come at a period of heightened tensions between the United States and China over the South China Sea, where Washington has been critical of China's building of man-made islands to assert expansive territorial claims.

China summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires in Beijing, Kaye Lee, to protest and said it would impose sanctions on the companies involved, China's state news agency Xinhua reported.

"Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory. China strongly opposes the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan," Xinhua quoted Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned Lee, as saying.

Zheng said the sales went against international law and basic norms of international relations and "severely" harmed China's sovereignty and security.

"To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale," Zheng said.

The U.S. State Department said Raytheon (RTN.N) and Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) were the main contractors in the sales.

It was not clear what impact sanctions might have on the companies, although in 2013, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with the Thailand-based Reignwood Group to build an offshore plant to provide energy for a luxury resort on Hainan island in southern China.

Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement the new weapons would be phased in over a number of years and would enable Taiwan to maintain and develop a credible defense.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said the decision was based solely on Taiwan's defense needs.

SEE ALSO: Pentagon chief Carter used personal email account at times - NY Times

"The Chinese can react to this as they see fit," he said. "This is nothing new. ... There's no need for it to have any derogatory effect on our relationship with China."

Kirby said Washington wanted to work to establish a "better, more transparent more effective relationship" with China in the region and had been in contact with both Taiwan and China on this on Wednesday. He declined to elaborate.

David McKeeby, another State Department spokesman, said the arms package included two Perry-class guided-missile frigates; $57 million of Javelin anti-tank missiles made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin; $268 million of TOW 2B anti-tank missiles and $217 million of Stinger surface-to-air missiles made by Raytheon, and $375 million of AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles.

The State Department said the frigates were being offered as surplus items at a cost of $190 million. The package also includes $416 million of guns, upgrade kits, ammunition and support for Raytheon's Close-in Weapons System.

Analysts and congressional sources believe the delay in the formal approval of the sales was due to the Obama administration's desire to maintain stable working relations with China, an increasingly powerful strategic rival but also a vital economic partner as the world's second-largest economy.

U.S. Republican lawmakers said on Wednesday they were pleased the administration had authorized the sale but called for a more regular process for such transactions.

John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said this would "avoid extended periods in which fear of upsetting the U.S.-China relationship may harm Taiwan's defense capabilities."

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and David Brunnstrom; Addtional reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Susan Heavey, Andrew Hay and Leslie Adler)

More from AOL.com:
'Affluenza Teen' Ethan Couch missing, says probation officer
Los Angeles schools set to reopen after threat prompted closure
2 teens under arrest after threat against Denver-area school

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners