On the 29th August of 2023, the US Government’s Department of State informed Congress about a package of USD$80 million to be issued for FMF assistance. On the 30th of August, the US Government approved the military assistance toward Taiwan under the (FMF) Foreign Military Financing Policy for sovereign countries.
On the 30th of August, Biden’s administration approved to provide military aid to Taiwan under their Foreign Military Financing (FMF). The incident fueled the rising tension between China and the US. It should be mentioned that such funds are usually sent to sovereign countries according to the policy of the US FMF, where Taiwan is still an Island under China. It’s more like, the US government aligned China as the next dice after Russia to take the fall.
US Government Asserts Aiding Taiwan
Last March of 2022, Jessica Lewis, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of political-military Affairs clearly stated in her statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, “Taiwan is a useful case in point: we work constantly with our partners in Taiwan to develop a joint understanding of the asymmetric capabilities required for its defense; having identified those capabilities, we also need to ensure we can deliver them in a timely manner.”
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Her statement was inevitably an early indicator of the upcoming assistance towards Taiwan. On the 29th August of 2023, the US Government’s Department of State informed Congress about a package of USD$80 million to be issued for FMF assistance. On the 30th of August, the US Government approved the military assistance toward Taiwan under the (FMF) Foreign Military Financing Policy for sovereign countries. Though the government is claiming it to be the first FMF transfer ever but in late June of 2023, Taiwan did receive a package of military aid under the (FMS) Foreign Military Sale program of the US Government.
Though the sources could not confirm what weapons and equipment will be in the military package, there is a probability of including air and coastal defense systems, armed vehicles, ballistic missile and cyber defenses, ammunition, or even training support for Taiwanese military forces. Empowering Taiwan with weapons means, blowing the heated coal for Fire. It is believed that the recent report on the “Silicon Triangle: The United States, Taiwan, China, and Global Semiconductor Security” may had its fair share in influencing the US Government.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul welcomed the approval stating that, “I am glad the administration is further implementing our bipartisan Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act by finally providing FMF to Taiwan. These weapons will not only help Taiwan and protect other democracies in the region but also strengthen the U.S. deterrence posture and ensure our national security from an increasingly aggressive CCP”.
China’s Initial Response
After this sudden approach of the United States government, China firmly opposed US arms aid and urged the US to stop conniving with Taiwan. Wang Wenbin, the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry stated in a press briefing that, “Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and our longstanding One China policy, which has not changed, the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
“This violates the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués, especially the August 17 Communiqué,”Wang Wenbin
In the notification of the Department of State that has been sent to Congress, the department wrote that “FMF will be used to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities through joint and combined defense capability and enhanced maritime domain awareness and maritime security capability.”
Also, China’s President Xi Jinping is likely to skip his visit to India for the G-20 Summit measuring the heat of the situation. Xi’s absence also could be a shot at host India, according to some analysts, who see it as a signal China is reluctant to confer influence on America which boasts one of the fastest-growing major economies as China’s slows. The summit in India had been viewed as a venue for a possible meeting between Xi and Biden, as the two superpowers would have the opportunity to stabilize relations soured by trade and geopolitical tensions but things seem to go differently this time.
Predisposition of Taiwan
China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under China’s control according to China’s ‘One China’ Policy. Taiwan is an Island roughly 100 miles away from China’s coastline, it sits in the “first island chain”, which includes a list of US-friendly territories that are crucial to US foreign policy. Taiwan has been a part of China since the Qing Dynasty of the 17th century. In 1895, China gave up the island to Japan after losing the first Sino-Japanese War. However, China took the island back again in 1945 after Japan lost World War Two. After a while, China fell victim to a civil war with Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang. After the communist party won in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan and ruled for several decades. The Kuomintang has been one of Taiwan’s most prominent political parties ever since – ruling the island for a significant part of its history. Currently, only 13 countries (plus the Vatican) recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.
China tends to use this heredity to say that Taiwan always has been a province of China. China points to this history to say that Taiwan was originally a Chinese province. But the Taiwanese point to the same history to argue that they were never part of the modern Chinese state that was first formed after the revolution in 1911 – or the People’s Republic of China that was established under Mao in 1949. On the other hand, Taiwan uses the same history to argue that they were never part of the modern Chinese state that was first formed after the revolution in 1911 – or the People’s Republic of China that was established under Mao in 1949.
Potential Reasons Behind US’ Provocative Approach
- As Ukraine crisis has cost the US a lot, and it has to mobilize resources in a new way to maintain “encouragement” for the Taiwan separatist authorities, generating potential support against China.
- The fact that US took this action just after Gina Raimondo the Commerce Secretary came from her four-day high-stakes visit to China. This has once again proved the US has no sincerity to manage existing tensions with China and the future of China-US ties will still be intense despite of communication between the two countries, said experts.
- The military equipment transfers, even in the name of aid, are not free at all because they are actually baits leading to more arms sales, as the program mainly offers assistance and training linked to arms sales, which means the major part is the sales.
- This action of the US Government would only encourage the secessionist forces to shadow-seek “Taiwan independence”, making the island a powder keg of ammunition depot and increasing the risk of a military conflict in Taiwan. In other words, the US using this island as expendable and doesn’t care about people living on the island.
- The US government’s recent base establishment in the Philippines is at its threshold, which also has become a hope for Taiwan to get assistance from the US Government if needed.
- Also, Taiwan dominates 65% of computer chip production in the world as the Taiwanese company ‘TSMC’ is a so-called “foundry” – a company that makes chips designed by consumer and military customers. It is a vast industry, worth almost $100bn (£73bn) in 2021. Getting hold of Taiwan against China will benefit the US with another major investment sector.
- As China has become a booming global power in the post-pandemic years after Russia, the US seems to feel insecure with its stance in the Global Market with its deteriorating credit rating. So, this initiative also may be taken as a potential hit towards China after cornering Russia with Ukraine. It has more become like a domino game for America.
Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday “the US move proves that Washington has intention to provoke military conflict in the Taiwan Straits, and it believes such a scenario would be the most effective method to create great trouble for China’s development.”
“A cornered beast will fight desperately. The US found it has failed to contain China’s development despite having initiated confrontations in many fields, and it is unable to completely ‘decouple’ from China, so it decided to take advantage of the Taiwan question, which is extremely dangerous,” Haidong added.
Domino bait or not, the US is clearly designing a potential stage for another war aligning China after Russia. The way, US Government has been selling weapons to Taiwan over the past years in an attempt to stabilize the military force of Taiwan and turn the island into a “porcupine.” Yet many arms sold to the island are outdated and overpriced. In the end, the US does not provide any significant military advantages for the island against the mainland of China which makes Taiwan nothing but a cash cow burning for the states.