Just after a tweet by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo congragulating Taiwan on its latest presidential election outraged Beijing, later in the day Wednesday the US announced a deal to sell $180 worth of torpedoes to Taiwan.
Specifically the agreement is for transferring 18 heavy Mk-48 torpedoes to the breakaway island-republic's military.
The US State Department said in announcing the deal: “Supplying Taiwan with these torpedoes serves the economic and security interests of the United States by helping (Taiwan) modernize its armed forces and maintaining a reliable defense capability.”
“This deal will also contribute to maintaining political stability, balance of power and economic progress in the region,” the statement added, in a veiled shot at what Washington considers the 'destabilizing' influence of China, which historically sees Taiwan as its own.
"The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today," it added.
A Mk-48 torpedo is nearly two feet in diameter and weighs 3,520 pounds; it can destroy targets at ranges of well over 5 miles out and travels at speeds up to 55 knots. Specifically, the "MK-48 Mod 6 Advanced Technology heavyweight torpedoes, which feature advanced sonar targeting for submarines, along with support equipment and related logistics support," are considered a major upgrade to Taiwan's submarine arsenal and capabilities.
Crucially the announcement came the same day Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in for her second term in office.
She provocatively verbalized a firm rejection of Chinese sovereignty claims in her speech, emphasizing the triumph of democracy as an affirmation of the island's sovereignty and independence.
Meanwhile, China reportedly stepped up military drills in the contested waters near Taiwan in response to the inauguration, which further involved flying PLA fighter jets into Taiwan's airspace.