US approves possible arms sale to Taiwan

The US State Department has approved the possible sale to Taiwan of M1A2T Abrams tanks, Stinger missiles and related equipment at an estimated value of $US2.2 billion ($A3.2 billion) despite Chinese criticism of the deal.

China's Foreign Ministry last month said it was seriously concerned about US arms sales to self-ruled Taiwan, and urged the United States to halt the sales to avoid harming bilateral ties.

The sale of the weapons requested by Taiwan, including 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2T Abrams tanks and 250 Stinger missiles, would not alter the basic military balance in the region, the Pentagon's Defence Security Cooperation Agency said.

DSCA has notified Congress of the possible arms sale, which it said could also include mounted machine guns, ammunition, Hercules-armoured vehicles for recovering inoperative tanks, heavy equipment transporters and related support.

The United States is the main arms supplier to Taiwan, which China deems a renegade province. Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in March that Washington was responding positively to Taipei's requests for new arms sales to bolster its defences in the face of pressure from China.

The US has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide it with the means to defend itself.