The State Department announced late last Thursday that the U.S. would sell roughly $1.4 billion in missiles, radar, torpedoes, and other logistical support to Taiwan. The deal, which is subject to congressional approval, is the Trump Administration’ first foreign military sale to Taiwan.

The U.S. formally follows a “One China” policy that acknowledges, but does not necessarily accept, the PRC’s assertion that Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China, is a “renegade province” and not an independent country. But despite that policy, U.S. regularly sells arms to Taiwan. The last deal was a $1.83 billion sale in December 2015 under the Obama Administration.


The sale represents a win for Raytheon, whose 63,000 employees and $24 billion in sales make it the the nations’s fourth-largest defense contractor. Raytheon stock was up $1.85 Friday on the news, which was announced after the markets closed Thursday. The sale includes the following items:

  • $147.5 million forAGM-88B HARM missiles and components
  • $125 million for SM-2 Block IIIA missiles and components for the Aegis system
  • $250 million for MK48 Mod 6AT torpedoes
  • $175 million for MK54 Lightweight torpedoes
  • $185.5 million for AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon missiles and components
  • $80 million for upgrades to AN/SLQ-32(V)3 shipboard electronic warfare systems
  • $400 million in logistical support to the Surveillance Radar Program.

Raytheon’s Missile Systems division is headquartered in Tucson, Ariz. and employes nearly 11,000. The company said last year it plans to add 2,000 workers to that labor force by 2021. The Integrated Defense Systems division, which manufactures its radar and electronic warfare systems, is headquartered in Tewksbury, Mass. and employs approximately 13,000 people.


The announcement angered the People’s Republic of China and set off predictable cries in some circles that President Trump is deliberately antagonizing the country’s leadership. Chinese Foreign Minister Lu Kang said the sale “severely violated international law, basic norms governing international relations and the three China-US joint communiqués, and jeopardized China’s sovereignty and security interests.”

These sales have been a regular component of U.S. foreign military sales since adoption of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979. Even so, the New York Times wrote that this particular sale “represents the most tangible sign yet that Mr. Trump’s honeymoon with [Chinese Premier] Xi is over.” The Guardian called it “a not-so-subtle warning shot across the bows” of China.

Since 1979, every U.S. president has authorized sales of military hardware and other support to Taiwan. The announcements contain boilerplate language that these sales do not “alter the basic military balance in the region.” An anonymous State Department official told reporters this sale is “consistent wit the Taiwan Relations Act, and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

The sale should gain easy approval in the Senate. On June 23, a bipartisan group of eight senators, including armed services chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who represent the Raytheon employees affected, urged the administration to move the deal forward. Foreign Policy magazine, which obtained a copy go the letter, reported the senators urged the president “to adopt a policy of regular and consistent support for Taiwan’s self-defense efforts and not allow concerns about China to take precedence over Taiwan.”

A 2016 survey found that, unsurprisingly, 81.6 parent of Taiwanese citizens reject the PRC’s claims to their island.

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Tom McCuin is a strategic communication consultant and retired Army Reserve Civil Affairs and Public Affairs officer whose career includes serving with the Malaysian Battle Group in Bosnia, two tours in Afghanistan, and three years in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs in the Pentagon. When he’s not devouring political news, he enjoys sailboat racing and umpiring Little League games (except the ones his son plays in) in Alexandria, Va. Follow him on Twitter at @tommccuin