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US Congress requested by President Biden to fund weapons for Taiwan with Ukraine budget

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The United States already delivered, among many other systems, Stryker armored vehicles to the Taiwanese armed forces (Picture source: U.S. DoD)

According to a report by Demetri Sevastopulo and Felicia Schwartz in the Financial Times, the White House is planning to request Congress to allocate funding for arms to Taiwan as part of a supplemental budget aimed at supporting Ukraine. This move comes in response to the escalating threat from China, and the Office of Management and Budget is expected to include Taiwan funding in the request to expedite the provision of weapons.

If approved by Congress, Taiwan will receive arms through the "foreign military financing" program, which would mark the first time such support is provided to Taiwan using US taxpayer funds. The request is anticipated to be submitted this month.

Recently, the White House announced its decision to supply $345 million worth of weapons from stockpiles to Taiwan for the first time, using the "presidential drawdown authority" that was previously employed to send weapons to Ukraine.

The inclusion of Taiwan funding in the supplemental budget and the use of "presidential drawdown authority" underscores the urgency to assist Taiwan amid the increasing military activities by China in the region. Critics of the current Taiwan strategy have urged the US government to expedite the provision of weapons in response to China's aggressive actions. Demetri Sevastopulo and Felicia Schwartz in the Financial Times undeline that it is worth noting that Taiwan enjoys strong bipartisan support in Congress. Combining support for Taiwan with the Ukraine budget could help garner additional backing from members who may have reservations otherwise. As expected, the Chinese embassy in Washington has expressed strong opposition to US military ties and arms provision to Taiwan, as China claims sovereignty over the island. It called on the US to refrain from actions that could threaten peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

As reported by Asia Nikkei, China has significantly increased its military drills simulating the containment of Taiwan, especially since the visit of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island about a year ago. The presence of Chinese military aircraft in the airspace east of Taiwan has risen sharply, and experts believe that China may be preparing for a potential blockade of Taiwan in the near future. This has led to concerns about Taiwan's defense and the involvement of neighboring countries such as Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea if a military invasion were to occur.

In response to China's actions, Japan is bolstering its defenses of the Nansei Islands, while the US has gained access to additional military bases in the Philippines. The US-Taiwan cooperation has also expanded, with the US providing five-year military support worth up to $10 billion for Taiwan, and discussions are ongoing about the advance stockpiling of US ammunition in Taiwan to ensure a steady supply during a potential blockade scenario.

Defense News August 2023

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