Earlier this year, China lashed out at the US after the Trump administration sent health secretary Alex Azar to Taiwan to discuss a tighter relationship as well as health matters. China’s foreign secretary Zhao Lijian sharply criticised the meeting, stating: “We once again warn the US that China is firmly opposed to the US and Taiwan engaging in official exchanges under any pretext.
“On issues involving China’s core interests, some people in the United States must not have any illusions and wishful thinking. Those who play with fire will get burnt.”
Despite the warning, CNN claims the Trump administration will likely confirm a large weapons deal with Taiwan.
Sources inside the US government told the broadcaster the deal is thought to be worth $600 million.
In return, Taiwan will receive a number of MQ-9B Reaper drones, as well as the support and equipment necessary to operate them.
The State Department declined to officially confirm the deal, since it has not been “formally notified to Congress.”
It will not be the first time the US has sent weapons to Taiwan. Under Donald Trump’s leadership, seven arms sales to the nation have valued over $13 billion.
However, Taiwan has expressed its intention to remain independent. The country’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, said in her election speech at the start of the year: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of “one country, two systems” to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle.”
In January, she said in an interview with the BBC: “We don’t have a need to declare ourselves an independent state. We are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China, Taiwan.”
In addition to the diplomatic unease, Taiwan’s military has reported multiple instances in which it has had to warn off Chinese forces.
In August, Taiwan’s air force allegedly had to escort away Chinese fighter jets which had crossed what is known as the ‘median line’ boundary between the two countries in the Taiwan Strait.
More recently, Taiwanese ministers held a meeting after China conducted air and naval exercises in Taiwan-claimed territory.
The country’s defence ministry called the drills a “severe provocation”.
This weekend, the US is expected to send Keith Krach, the government’s Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, to Taiwan.
The US State Department said Mr Krach would attend the memorial service for Taiwan’s former president Lee Teng-hui on Saturday.