Published On: Sat, Jul 29th, 2023

Biden announces historic £268m military aid to Taiwan as tensions with China spike | World | News

Joe Biden‘s administration pledged on Friday a major package of military aid to Taiwan in a bid to prevent China from invading the self-governing island.

The aid being provided will be worth some £268million ($345m) and will include defence, education and training for the territory.

Two sources described as US officials claimed the military package includes man-portable air defence systems known as MANPADS, intelligence and surveillance capabilities as well as firearms and missiles.

This decision is historic, as it marks the first time Mr Biden draws on the US’ own stockpiles to send help to Taiwan.

This comes amid major pressure on the White House and the Pentagon from American Congress members to support the self-ruled territory with weapons in the hope Beijing would consider the price of invading the territory across the Taiwan Strait too high.

Taipei’s trade office thanked Washington’s decision to send his own arms and military stockpiles to give it “an important tool to support Taiwan’s self-defence”.

In a statement, it also promised to work closely with the US to maintain “peace, stability and the status quo” across the Strait.

Moreover, Taipei’s Ministry of National Defence thanked Washington for “its firm commitment to Taiwan’s security”.

On the other hand, Chinese diplomats protested against the move.

The fact this aid will come from the US’s own stockpiles means the delivery can’t be hampered by production and sales times.

Washington has already acted in a similar manner to provide Ukraine with military support since the beginning of the Russian invasion last year.

Prior to this military aid, the US approved nearly £15billion ($19bn) in military sales of F-16 jets and other weapon systems to Taiwan.

Washington has accelerated the rate at which it has provided help to the self-governing territory amid China’s escalation of threats aimed at Taiwan, which split from Beijing in 1949 amid civil war.

In May, Beijing said it was prepared to “resolutely smash any form of Taiwan independence” and lashed out at the exchanges between the US and Taiwan’s militaries, which China’s Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Tan Kefei described as an “extremely wrong and dangerous move”.

China claims the island, inhabited by some 23million people, as its own territory and has expressed multiple times its readiness at taken over it by force if necessary.

The US maintains a “One China” policy, according to which Washington doesn’t recognise Taiwan as an independent country and doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with.

However, US law requires a credible defence for Taiwan and for the US to treat all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”.

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