The United States has announced a military aid package worth $345 million for Taiwan in a bid to help the island nation to counter China, reported the Associated Press. It is the first such major package by President Joe Biden drawing America’s own stockpiles. It comes days after former US diplomat Henry Kissinger visited China to ease the tensions between the two nations. Kissinger met China’s defence minister Li Shangfu in a surprise visit to Beijing, reported The Guardian. According to a readout from the Chinese defence ministry, Kissinger said that neither the US nor China can afford to treat the other as an adversary.
He further said that if US and China go to war, ‘it will not lead to any meaningful results for the two peoples’, the statement read. The readout also quoted Kissinger as saying that he was a “friend of China”. As per the White House, the package includes defence, education and training for the Taiwanese.
The US will also send man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, firearms and missiles, reported the AP citing two US officials.
Notably, lawmakers in the US have been pushing the Pentagon and White House to speed weapons to Taiwan. The announcement is being looked at as an attempt to help Taiwan counter China. It would also deter Beijing from considering attacking Taipei. The weaponry is likely to make the invasion a far truth for Taiwan.
Responding to the announcement, Taiwan’s trade office in Washington said the US’ decision to pull arms and other materiel from its stores provided “an important tool to support Taiwan’s self-defense”, AP mentioned in the report. Taiwan pledged to work with the United States to maintain “peace, stability and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait”.
Notably, the US earlier approved nearly $19 billion in military sales of F-16s and other major weapons systems for Taiwan. But the delivery of these weapons got hampered by supply chain issues that started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the difference with the new announcement is that it is part of a presidential authority approved by Congress last year to draw weapons from current US military stockpiles, AP stated. This means that Taiwan will not have to wait for military production and sales and weapons will be delivered faster than providing funding for new weapons, the report added.
The same authority was used by the Pentagon to get billions of dollars worth of munitions to Ukraine to counter Russia.
Taiwan Conducts Annual Han Kuang Drills To Repel A Chinese Invasion
Taiwan has conducted its annual Han Kuang military drills showcasing the country’s defence capabilities against China. According to BBC, the commanding officer told reporters that the military has shown that ‘we will do our utmost to defend and protect our country’.
“We are confident that through these exercises we will be ready to respond to any situation,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Notably, Taiwan’s fear of an invasion from China has increased since Russia waged a war on Ukraine. The island nation has been preparing itself for such an attack.
Taiwan’s soldiers staged a simulated helicopter attack Taoyuan International Airport. The drill is the first of its kind at the airport since it opened in 1979, reported the Taipei Times.
According to it, Taiwan’s major war games, The Han Kuang exercises, have been held annually since 1984 in the form of live-fire drills and computerised war games. It said that the aim of the drill is to ensure Taiwan’s combat readiness in the face of a Chinese invasion.
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