Biden Administration Approves Its First Arms Sale to Taiwan
The administration of President Joe Biden has approved its first arms sale to Taiwan, a move that’s sure to draw criticism from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which considers the island nation a breakaway province.
The State Department approved the sale of $750 million worth of military equipment to Taiwan on Aug. 4, triggering a 30-day window for Congress to approve the transaction. The approved purchase included 40 self-propelled howitzers, 20 field artillery ammunition support vehicles, and other equipment.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the State Department said in a statement. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the move, saying that it demonstrated the U.S. government’s commitment to Taiwan.
“It also allows the country to maintain a rock-solid self-defense, [and] regional peace [and] stability,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.
In March, the Chinese regime’s top diplomat warned the Biden administration to reverse former President Donald Trump’s “dangerous practice” of supporting Taiwan.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi called the CCP’s claim to Taiwan an “insurmountable red line,” an issue about which the regime “has no room for compromise.” Yi urged the Biden administration to “completely change the previous administration’s dangerous practices of ‘crossing the line’ and ‘playing with fire,’” in relation to Taiwan.
Shortly after Biden took office, the State Department halted arms sales to foreign allies negotiated under the Trump administration. The department said the freeze was a routine action as part of a transition between administrations.
The Trump administration approved a $600 million weapons sale to Taiwan in November 2020, which included four advanced drone systems. China denounced the move at the time, with Wang calling on the United States to stop all arms sales to Taiwan “so as to avoid further damage to China–U.S. relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
Washington ended its diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979, but it has maintained a non-diplomatic relationship with the island based on the Taiwan Relations Act, signed into law by former President Jimmy Carter in April 1979. The act authorizes the United States to provide the island with military equipment for its self-defense and set up a nonprofit corporation known as the American Institute in Taiwan, which is now the de facto U.S. Embassy on the island.
Cathy He, Mimi Nguyen Ly, and Frank Fang contributed to this report.