US Approves First Arms To Taiwan Under Foreign Aid Programme

Officials announced Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s administration has approved direct US military aid to Taiwan for the first time under an assistance program aimed at foreign governments, as concerns about China mount.

The State Department told Congress of the $80 million package on Tuesday, which is tiny in comparison to prior sales to Taiwan but represents the first assistance to Taipei through the Foreign Military Financing program, which typically comprises grants or loans to sovereign countries.

For the past five decades, the United States has only officially recognized Beijing, despite the fact that Congress, through the Taiwan Relations Act, required the provision of weaponry to the self-governing democracy for defense.

Successive US administrations have done so through sales rather than direct aid to Taiwan, with public pronouncements resembling business transactions with the island’s de facto embassy in Washington.

The State Department emphasized that the program’s first aid did not imply acceptance of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

“Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our longstanding One China policy, which has not changed, the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“The United States has an abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is critical to regional and global security and prosperity.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry expressed gratitude. “The aid will help in regional peace and stability,” it said in a short statement.

China’s defense ministry, asked about the aid at a regular briefing, warned that US military aid to Taiwan would harm the island.

“US military aid and sales to Taiwan only nourish the US military-industrial complex while harming the security and well-being of Taiwan compatriots,” spokesperson Wu Qian told a briefing.

“In this regard, the People’s Liberation Army will, as always, take all necessary measures to resolutely counter it,” he added, referring to the Chinese military by its official name.

The State Department did not formally announce the aid or give details, but a person familiar with the notice said the assistance would involve support to improve awareness at sea.

Growing Tensions

Congress must approve the aid, which is almost inevitable because members from both parties strongly favor Taiwan.

Representative Mike McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a vocal critic of Biden’s foreign policy, applauded the move.

“These weapons will not only help Taiwan and protect other democracies in the region, but also strengthen the US deterrence posture and ensure our national security from an increasingly aggressive CCP,” he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

In recent months, China and the United States have resumed talks in the hopes of bringing greater stability to the world’s largest developed and developing nations’ relationship.

However, Taiwan remains a source of contention, with Chinese authorities making repeated warnings and considering the US as determined to promote the island’s formal independence.

China has conducted large military drills three times in less than a year in response to Taiwanese leaders’ relations with the US, raising the possibility that it is preparing for an invasion.

Senior US officials have stated that they believe Chinese President Xi Jinping is moving away from the status quo on Taiwan, however American analysts disagree on the extent to which China’s recent economic difficulties and Russia’s struggles to dominate Ukraine would deter Beijing.

The Biden administration has broken new ground in its support for Taiwan for the second time in as many months.

In July, Biden approved $345 million in military aid to Taiwan from unused US stockpiles, emulating one method of US assistance to Ukraine as it fights off a Russian invasion.

Israel is the top recipient of Foreign Military Financing, to the tune of more than $3 billion a year.


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