US approves military aid to Taiwan under programme usually reserved for sovereign nations

The politically significant move could potentially anger China

USA-TAIWAN/ARMS Taiwanese flags are seen at the Ministry of National Defence of Taiwan in Taipei, Taiwan, December 26, 2022 | Reuters

President Joe Biden's government has approved military aid to Taiwan. The $80 million package has been approved under a programme usually used to help sovereign states. 

The politically significant move could potentially anger China, which claims Taiwan as its territory. China, on Wednesday even released a map showing Taiwan to be part of its territory. China, as recently as August 26, sent dozens of aircraft and vessels toward, 20 of which crossed Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

This is the first time Washington has assisted Taipei under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme. The US has, in the past, sold arms to Taiwan. 

The US has been Taiwan's biggest backer. “Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our longstanding One China policy, which has not changed, the United States makes available to Taiwan defence articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

Taiwan’s defence ministry expressed gratitude. “The aid will help in regional peace and stability,” it said. China and the US have had diplomatic relations for 50 years. These relations have been strained in recent years over several things including China's violation of human rights in the Xinjiang region to frequently breaching Taiwan's air defence identification zone by sending warplanes and vessels. 

Military equipment or systems paid for under the FMF include air and coastal defence systems, armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, ballistic missile and cyber defences, and advanced communications equipment. Assistance provided under FMF requires approval from the Congress.

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