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US announces $345m military aid package for disputed Taiwan

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The United States has revealed a substantial military aid package amounting to $345 million for the self-governing island, which is the subject of territorial dispute with China. The announcement was made by the Biden administration on Friday and includes provisions for “defense articles,” military training, and education.

Although the specific details regarding the equipment and weapons were not disclosed in the White House statement, media reports quoting anonymous officials suggest that the package may include portable air defense systems, small arms munitions, and reconnaissance equipment.

Beijing swiftly responded to the news with a strong rebuke, reiterating its intention to forcefully “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland. The Chinese embassy in Washington released a statement calling for the US to cease arms sales to Taiwan and avoid contributing to further tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

Despite not having formal diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, the US has consistently supported the island’s defense efforts. Recent events, such as China’s military exercises conducted near Taiwan’s coastline and its aggressive stance towards the island, have spurred Washington to provide aid to bolster Taiwan’s security.

Under its “One China” policy, the US officially acknowledges Beijing as the legitimate government of China but also commits to supporting Taiwan’s defense. The island’s contested status dates back to the Chinese civil war, culminating in the Kuomintang’s retreat to Taiwan.

Over the past years, the US has approved substantial military aid to Taiwan, including a $8 billion deal to supply 66 F-16 fighter jets by 2026. President Biden’s backing of Taiwan and its independence-leaning administration led by Tsai Ing-wen has further strained relations between the US and China, with Beijing accusing Washington of escalating tensions and transforming Taiwan into a potential flashpoint.

The latest military aid package for Taiwan comes after the US Congress authorized President Biden to draw aid for Taiwan from American military stocks, adopting a fast-track method akin to the assistance provided to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion. As the geopolitical situation in the region remains delicate, the US’s show of support for Taiwan is likely to have significant implications on the already tense relations between the US and China.

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