July 10 (UPI) -- The United States has approved Taiwan's purchase of upgrades to Patriot III missiles for about $620 million, a move that is being welcomed in Taipei amid high tensions with China.
The purchase was approved by the U.S. State Department. The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the recertification for the terminal air defense system of missiles includes replacement components nearing expiration, Taiwan News and Taiwan's Central News agency reported.
The U.S. package includes tests of missile capabilities, repairs and a Stockpile Reliability Program, which is being used to guarantee the missiles remain safe and dependable while in deployment.
The United States upholds the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates Washington to help Taiwan with continued commercial and other exchanges, including arms sales.
This week the DSCA said the approved arms sale is aligned with U.S. national, economic and security interests that will maintain peace, security and stability in the Pacific region. DSCA said the sale has not been finalized.
Taiwan's defense ministry has said the approval is evidence of strengthening ties between the two governments and U.S. commitment to Taiwanese security.
Taipei's foreign ministry issued a similar statement on Friday, welcoming the U.S. approval that "deepens the close security relationship between Taiwan and the United States."
In May the Trump administration notified the U.S. Congress of a potential sale of advanced torpedoes to Taiwan for $180 million, the same month Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said she rejects Beijing's "one country two systems" proposal for Taiwan.
Tsai's statement drew rebuke from Beijing. The Chinese government has said Tsai was "unilaterally damaging the political foundations of cross-strait ties."
U.S. and Chinese aircraft have flown in Taiwanese airspace. Chinese aircraft have entered airspace near and in Taiwan several times in 2020, according to Taiwanese press reports.