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State Department proposes $2 billion sale of arms to Taiwan

Associated Press

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FILE - Members of US Army's 4th Infantry Division 3rd Brigade Combat Team 68th Armor Regiment 1st Battalion prepare to unload some Abrams battle tanks after arriving at the Gaiziunai railway station, some 110 kms (69 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. U.S. Army has maintained a rotating presence in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe since spring 2014 as part of U.S. Army-led Operation Atlantic Resolve for the eastern part of the Alliance and demonstration of strong U.S. and NATO commitment to collective defense of the Alliance and to the security of the region in light of the Russian aggression in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department is proposing the sale of $2.2 billion in arms to Taiwan, including 108 Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, sidestepping protests from China.

The tanks represent a significant upgrade to Taiwan’s aging armored battle fleet. Congress has been notified of the proposed sale and lawmakers can vote to stop it.

The Chinese foreign ministry has said it firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims as its territory.

The State Department says the arms will help Taiwan “meet current and future regional threats” and enhance its ability to operate with the U.S. and other partners.

Taiwan split from China in 1949, and has no formal diplomatic ties with the U.S. America is Taiwan’s main supplier of defensive weapons.