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29 Jul, 2023 00:44

US announces major ‘military aid’ package for Taiwan

The $345 million deal reportedly includes MQ-9 Reaper drones
US announces major ‘military aid’ package for Taiwan

The US will send Taiwan up to $345 million worth of weapons, ammunition and services, President Joe Biden confirmed on Friday. The contents of the aid were not made public, but media outlets earlier reported it included Reaper drones.

Biden authorized the “drawdown of up to $345 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training” to Taipei in a memo sent to the State Department, which administers such aid under the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act.

Neither the White House nor the Pentagon disclosed what would be included in the package, which would come out of the existing US military stocks. A former Pentagon official who spoke to Politico earlier said the major line items would be small-arms ammunition and MQ-9 Reaper drones. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Congress in May that a presidential drawdown package was in the works for Taiwan. US lawmakers have appropriated $1 billion for military aid to the island for this fiscal year.

Friday’s drawdown is on top of the sale of $440 million worth of weapons to Taipei, approved by the US in June. China protested the move at the time as “creating tensions and undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.

Beijing considers Taiwan to be sovereign Chinese territory under its one-China policy. The island has been ruled by a separate government that fled the mainland in 1949 with US assistance, having lost the civil war to the Communists. 

The US recognized Taiwan as ‘Republic of China’ until 1979, when it established diplomatic relations with Beijing as the sole legitimate Chinese government. However, Washington continues to supply Taipei with weapons and equipment, and has pledged to defend the island in the event of an invasion from the mainland.