Biden Signs Off On $360M Taiwan Military Equipment Sale

( – President Biden has approved the sale of $360 million of military equipment to Taiwan. The cache includes 291 Altius-600M systems—unmanned drones with warheads—and 720 Switchblade drones with extended range. A Biden administration statement said the sale is in America’s best interests as it helps a key ally “modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-Te expressed his gratitude to the US and said he would continue strengthening Taiwan’s defense capacity.

Experts say the move will likely exacerbate tensions between the United States and China, even as the Biden administration has attempted to ease them. America does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state but has long had positive relations with the island and openly supported its leaders. China considers Taiwan Chinese territory, and the dispute has lasted for decades. Taiwan currently rules itself, but China has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s control.

The two areas are intertwined in many respects, and many Taiwanese residents consider themselves Chinese, although surveys show that number is falling. Earlier this year, almost 70% said they were Taiwanese rather than Chinese, up from around 20% in the early 1990s.

In 2021, President Biden said America would defend the island in the event of a Chinese invasion, and the issue will likely come up again as the 2024 Presidential candidates prepare to face each other in debates. Biden later clarified his remarks, saying he would follow existing policy to defend Taiwan but would not say what form that defense might take.

In May, a former US Ambassador for the Trump administration said he believes the former President will continue American support for Taiwan if he is re-elected in November. James Gilmore noted that Trump spoke positively with then-Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen soon after his 2016 victory, in a move that infuriated Beijing.

Others, however, including Obama administration official Evan Madeiros, said that Donald Trump does not care about Taiwan or its future.

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