The United States announced this Friday (2) a package of military aid to Taiwan worth 1.1 billion dollars (R$ 5.69 billion). The amount will serve the island, whose sovereignty is claimed by China, to strengthen its missile and radar system, according to a US State Department spokesman.
The package is the largest ever awarded to Taiwan under President Joe Biden and includes 60 Harpoon-type missile systems and 100 AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missiles, as well as financial support for a radar system.
The aid has yet to be approved by the US Congress, where Taiwan has the support of both Democrats and Republicans, making approval a mere formality.
The announcement of the new aid comes at a time of particular tension between the US and China, heightened by the recent visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In retaliation, China carried out large-scale military exercises around Taiwan — prompting the island to do the same.
The State Department spokesperson argued that military aid is necessary for Taiwan to “maintain its ability to defend itself” and recalled that since 2010, the US government has notified Congress of more than $35 billion in aid. military to Taiwan.
Cause of friction between US and China
Taiwan has historically been one of the biggest sources of friction between China and the US, not least because Washington DC is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and would be its biggest military ally in the event of a possible war with Beijing.
The aid, the spokesman argued, complies with the “one China” principle, which Beijing imposes as the basis for its ties with any country.
This policy means that the only Chinese government the US should recognize is the one based in Beijing, which distances them from Taiwan’s independence aspirations.
Biden has repeatedly reiterated his respect for that principle, prompting the US to sever diplomatic ties with Taipei and establish them with Beijing nearly half a century ago.
In return, the US adopted the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, in which it pledged to provide military aid to the island but did not make it clear whether it would intervene in the event of a Chinese attack, a policy dubbed “strategic ambiguity”.
The island of Taiwan is located in the southeast of mainland China. Self-governed since 1949, it has a democratic regime and is politically close to Western countries, in addition to being a major producer of electronic chips.
China, however, considers Taiwan part of its territory and requires third countries to choose between maintaining diplomatic relations with either Beijing or Taipei.
The visit of high-ranking members of the US government to the island is nothing new and has increased in the administrations of Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
But before Pelosi, the last time a congressman who presides over the US House – the most important politician in the country after the vice president – visited the island was in 1997, with Newt Gingrich, who ran the house between 1995 and 1997. 1998, during the Bill Clinton administration.
In recent years, Taiwan has also seen a series of visits by delegations from Europe and other Western allies, in part due to Beijing’s more aggressive stance under President Xi Jinping.
Amid deteriorating US-China relations, and Chinese pressure on the island, Taiwan has also purchased a slew of American weaponry in recent years.