The United States has announced a $345 million military aid package for Taiwan.
The decision comes amid increasing tensions with China, which regards Taiwan as part of its national territory. Taiwan separated from China in 1949 and is currently ruled by the Democratic Progressive Party.
President Joe Biden authorized the funding through a law signed by President John F. Kennedy in November of 1961 during the Cold War.
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 621 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 506(a)(3) of the FAA to direct the drawdown of up to $345 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Taiwan,” Biden declared in a statement released on July 28.
The aid package will include portable air defense systems, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, firearms and missiles – “the first time [it] will come from existing U.S. military stockpiles instead of purchases through the foreign military sales program,” per ABC News.
Although the U.S. does not formally have a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, the Biden administration has taken steps to support the country. The State Department describes the nations’ unofficial relationship as “robust.”
“The United States and Taiwan share similar values, deep commercial and economic links, and strong people-to-people ties, which form the bedrock of our friendship and serve as the impetus for expanding U.S. engagement with Taiwan,” the department states.
It went on to say:
The United States has a longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three U.S.-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances. We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence; and we expect cross-Strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means. Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States makes available defense articles and services as necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability – and maintains our capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of Taiwan.
The U.S. commissioned a naval warship in Australia last week, increasing military presence in the region amid mounting tension.
Taiwan has purchased a reported $19 billion in weapons, the majority of which have not yet been delivered to the island nation.
China has now accused the U.S. of making Taiwan an “ammunition depot.” Six ships from the Chinese navy were documented off the Taiwanese coast on July 30.
“No matter how much of the ordinary people’s taxpayer money the … Taiwanese separatist forces spend, no matter how many U.S. weapons, it will not shake our resolve to solve the Taiwan problem. Or shake our firm will to realize the reunification of our motherland,” said Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, per Politico. “Their actions are turning Taiwan into a powder keg and ammunition depot, aggravating the threat of war in the Taiwan Strait.”
Prior to signing the Foreign Assitance Act of 1961, Kennedy asked Congress to “enact foreign aid legislation that would exemplify and advance the national interests and security strategies of the United States post-World War II,” noted the Congressional Research Service in 2011. “He described the existing foreign mechanisms as bureaucratic, fragmented, awkward, and slow.”
CRS noted similar critiques have been levied at the Foreign Assistance Act.