Washington: The US announced $345 million in military aid for Taiwan on Friday. This is the first significant package under the Biden administration to use American stockpiles to assist Taiwan in containing China.
According to the White House's announcement, the package would cover Taiwanese training, education, and defence. According to two US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate issues before the announcement, Washington will send MANPADS, intelligence and surveillance tools, weapons, and missiles.
The Pentagon and White House are under pressure from US lawmakers to deliver weapons to Taiwan quickly. By giving Taipei enough weapons to make an invasion too expensive, the objectives are to assist Taipei in countering China and to discourage China from considering attacking.
Chinese diplomats objected to the action, but Taiwan's trade office in Washington stated that the US removal of weapons and other supplies from its stockpiles gave Taiwan "an important tool to support Taiwan's self-defense." It promised in a statement to cooperate with the US to uphold "peace, stability, and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait."
In a statement released early on Saturday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence also expressed its gratitude to "the US for its firm commitment to Taiwan's security."
The package comes on top of the nearly $19 billion in military sales to Taiwan that the US has authorised, including sales of F-16s and other expensive weapons systems. Supply chain problems, which first surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic and were exacerbated by the pressures brought on by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, have hampered the delivery of those weapons.
The distinction is that Taiwan won't have to wait for military production and sales because this assistance is a part of a presidential authority that Congress approved last year to draw weapons from current US military stockpiles. Compared to funding for new weapons, this expedites the delivery of weapons.
A similar power was used by the Pentagon to deliver to Ukraine weapons valued at billions of dollars.
During a civil war, Taiwan broke away from China in 1949. Chinese President Xi Jinping maintains China has the right to annex the island that is currently governed by itself, using force if necessary. With the billions of dollars in promised weapon sales, China has charged that the US is turning Taiwan into a "powder keg".
In deference to Beijing, the US upholds a "One China" policy in which it refuses to acknowledge Taiwan as a sovereign state and maintains no formal diplomatic ties with the island. But according to US law, Taiwan must have a convincing defence and the US must treat any threats to the island as a "grave concern."
One of the lessons the US has learned from Russia's invasion of Ukraine is to get stockpiles of weapons to Taiwan now, before an attack begins, Pentagon deputy defence secretary Kathleen Hicks told The Associated Press earlier this year.
Ukrainian policy "was more of a cold-start approach than the planned approach we have been working on for Taiwan, and we will apply those lessons," Hicks said. Taiwan is an island, so efforts to resupply it following a conflict would be challenging, she said.
In an effort to intimidate Taiwan's 23 million citizens and deplete its military resources, China routinely sends warships and aircraft into Taiwan's air defence identification zone and across the centre line in the Taiwan Strait that acts as a buffer between the two sides.
Beijing is "firmly opposed" to US military ties with Taiwan, according to Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, who made the statement in a statement on Friday. According to Liu, the US should "stop selling arms to Taiwan" and "stop instigating new circumstances that might increase tensions in the Taiwan Strait."