U.S. Approves Unprecedented Military Aid to Taiwan, Challenging China's Stance

By Ethan Cole on
 August 31, 2023

In a groundbreaking move, the U.S. has approved the first-ever U.S. military aid to Taiwan under the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, usually reserved for sovereign nations.

The package is considered modest by government standards, amounting to $80 million out of a potential $2 billion, but the implications are significant.

This decision is expected to strain U.S.-China relations, as Beijing considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force for reunification.

A Historic Decision: FMF Program Extended to Taiwan

The U.S. State Department has notified Congress about the military aid package, emphasizing that the material will "be used to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities through joint and combined defense capability and enhanced maritime domain awareness and maritime security capability."

This is a significant departure from previous U.S. policy, which has generally reserved FMF for sovereign, independent states.

The decision to extend FMF to Taiwan is a testament to the U.S.'s overall commitment to Taiwan's defense and sovereignty. However, the Biden administration was quick to try and play down their support by clarifying this does not represent a change in policy. But, it's a position that China is likely to disagree with vehemently.

The Implications: A Diplomatic Tightrope

The move is expected to infuriate China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province. Beijing has always vociferously protested all U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

The only other time the U.S. has provided a non-nation-state with military assistance under FMF was to the African Union.

While the U.S. must tread carefully in its diplomatic relations with China, especially considering Beijing's strong stance against any form of Taiwanese independence, Taiwan must be defended against Chinese aggression.

The decision to provide FMF funding to Taiwan could potentially escalate tensions between the two superpowers. However, China is already doing enough on their own to escalate tensions, making this move the logical next step for the U.S.

What's in the Package?

The notification did not specify what military equipment or systems would be paid for under FMF.

However, it mentioned that items could include air and coastal defense systems, armored vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, ballistic missile and cyber defenses, and advanced communications equipment. FMF may also be used to support training for Taiwanese military forces.

Strengthening Taiwan's Military: A Comprehensive Approach

The aid package is designed to be comprehensive, covering a range of military needs from advanced communications equipment to training. This multi-faceted approach aims to bolster Taiwan's self-defense capabilities in a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape.

Conclusion

The U.S.'s decision to extend military aid to Taiwan under the FMF program is a historic and potentially contentious move. While it signifies a strong commitment to Taiwan's defense, it also poses challenges for U.S.-China relations. As the world watches, the diplomatic tightrope continues to stretch.


This article is based on information provided by the Associated Press and published on Military.com.

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