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Taiwan Navy and Aircraft Ordered to Respond After Chinese Force Approaches Island

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The Taiwan defense ministry announced Saturday that Chinese military aircraft and vessels are heading for the island days after a $500 million arms deal was approved between the U.S. and Taiwan, according to the Associated Press.

On Wednesday, the U.S. approved $500 million in equipment for F-16 fighter jet search and tracking capabilities in order to improve Taiwan’s ability to “meet current and future threats,” according to a statement from the State Department.

The defense ministry said that 32 aircraft and nine vessels from the People’s Liberation Army and China’s navy were spotted between 6 a.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday, according to the AP.

Over half of the aircraft crossed over into the Taiwan Strait or alternatively went into the island’s aircraft identification zone, resulting in the Taiwanese military instructing its own aircraft and military vessels to respond, according to the AP. Beijing has continued to increase military drills in the area in opposition to the island’s moves for independence.

The arms deal included Infrared Search and Track (IRST) systems, computer software and extra parts for Taiwan’s military aircraft, according to a statement from the State Department. The department further explained that it “serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces.”

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It will “improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by contributing to the recipient’s abilities to defend its airspace, provide regional security, and increase interoperability with the United States through its F-16 program,” the department’s statement reads.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Zhang Xiaogang released a statement Friday following the arms deal, saying that China strongly disapproved of the decision and viewed it as a “gross interference” and a “heinous act,” according to the AP. He further demanded that the U.S. adhere to its previous commitment to stay out of Taiwan’s fight for independence.

The State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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