Taipei: The US Defence Department has approved the sale of upgraded missile equipment to Taiwan, a Taipei-based US official said on Thursday, risking the ire of the island`s rival China.
The sale of the Patriot missile equipment is part of a package passed by the US Congress more than a year ago, said a spokesman with the American Institute in Taiwan, the US de facto embassy in the absence of formal ties.
"The US Defence Department awarded Lockheed Martin Corp the contract to provide Patriot missile defence systems to Taiwan as part of a big arms deal approved by Congress in 2008," the spokesman said.
The US Defence Department said in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday the contract for Lockheed Martin involved "basic missile tooling upgrades".
The announcement followed close on the heels of a warning from China, which considers the island part of its territory and wants it back even if it means war.
"We firmly oppose the US selling arms to Taiwan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters at a regular briefing Tuesday, saying Beijing has had "serious consultations" with Washington on the issue.
"We urge the US to recognise the gravity of selling arms to Taiwan... cancel any plans to sell arms to Taiwan and stop selling arms to Taiwan so as not to damage China-US relations."
The Pentagon in October 2008 notified Congress of 6.5 billion dollars in arms sales to Taiwan, triggering stern condemnation from China.
The package included 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles worth up to USD 3.1 billion.
The contract now awarded by Pentagon, which totals USD 968.7 million and also covers deals not involving Taiwan, appears to be for only part of the missile sale announced in 2008.