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U.S. to provide $345 million in military aid to Taiwan

The United States will provide Taiwan with up to $345 million in military assistance, using a similar presidential authority to the one in which it sends weapons to Ukraine, the White House announced Friday. The package comes as China continues efforts to increase its authority over democratically-governed Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.

Military defense equipment, education and training will be included in the package, the White House said.

“The drawdown includes self-defense capabilities that Taiwan will be able to use to bolster deterrence now and in the future,” Sue Gough, a Department of Defense spokesperson, said by email. Systems in the package “address critical defensive stockpiles, multi-domain awareness, anti-armor and air defense capabilities,” she added.

The Taiwan defense ministry said in a statement in response to the package that it is “grateful for the United States’ firm commitment to Taiwan’s security,” and that the United States and Taiwan will “continue to cooperate closely” to maintain “peace, stability and the status quo” across the Taiwan Strait. The announcement follows complaints from the Taiwan defense ministry over delays in the delivery of U.S. arms that Taiwan already purchased.

The new aid package marks the first time the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which expedites the process of supplying arms and pulls directly from stockpiles, has been used for Taiwan. It has been used dozens of times for Ukraine, under a separate provision allowing for emergency support.

At a news briefing in Australia on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the assistance “is no change from what we’ve done in the past,” and would not interrupt support to Ukraine.

“It’s important to use every mechanism we have available,” he said.

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Tensions were especially visible this week when Taipei launched its Han Kuang military exercises and simulated a Chinese invasion at its main airport.

President Biden has said that the United States would defend Taiwan if China invaded, but the White House later appeared to walk back the remarks. The Taiwan Relations Act allows the United States to provide “defense articles and defense services” to enable Taiwan’s self-defense capability, but it does not guarantee U.S. military intervention in an invasion.

Under the one-China policy, the United States “acknowledges” China’s position on Taiwan, but also does not take a position on Taiwan’s status. It has “a robust unofficial relationship” with the island, according the State Department. These close ties have incensed China, which has called on the United States to stop supplying arms to Taiwan. After then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year, Beijing responded with military exercises.

Paul Huang, a defense analyst and a fellow at the Taiwan Public Opinion Foundation, was skeptical of the aid package and pointed to “serious delays in recent years in the delivery of numerous U.S. arms sales” to Taiwan.

“Whether it is arms sales or aid, there is widespread doubt regarding the capability of the U.S. in delivering these promised arms,” he said. “Taiwan should not put too much hope on these promises and must adjust its defense strategy and force building based on this new reality.”

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