NATIONAL NEWS

US OKs military aid to Taiwan under program usually reserved for sovereign nations

Aug 30, 2023, 10:43 AM

In this grab from video released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, a pilot checks on a F-16s at H...

In this grab from video released by the Taiwan Military News Agency, a pilot checks on a F-16s at Hualien Airbase in Taiwan's southeastern Hualien county, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. Taiwan deployed aircraft and vessels and activated land-based missile systems after the Chinese military launched drills around Taiwan on Saturday as a "stern warning" over what it called collusion between "separatists and foreign forces," its defense ministry said, days after the island's vice president stopped over in the United States. (Taiwan Military News Agency via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Taiwan Military News Agency via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has approved the first-ever U.S. military transfer to Taiwan under a program generally reserved for assistance to sovereign, independent states.

The State Department notified Congress of the sale on Wednesday. It said the material would “be used to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.”

The package is modest — only $80 million of what Congress had set aside as a potential $2 billion — but the implications of using the so-called Foreign Military Financing program to provide it will likely infuriate China.

Beijing, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, has repeatedly not ruled out the use of force to reunite it with the mainland, and vociferously protests all U.S. arms sales to the self-governing island.

However, previous arms sales to Taiwan have been approved under other authorities that do not necessarily imply statehood. U.S. officials were quick to say that the provision of FMF funding to Taiwan did not represent a change in policy; a position the Chinese are sure to disagree with.

The notification, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, did not specify what military equipment or systems would be paid for under FMF, which commits U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay for the supply of materiel to foreign countries.

In addition to equipment, FMF may also be used to support training for Taiwanese military forces.

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US OKs military aid to Taiwan under program usually reserved for sovereign nations