First US military transfer to Taiwan approved under program for sovereign states

The Biden administration has approved the first-ever U.S. military transfer to Taiwan under a program that is generally reserved for sovereign states.

A spokesperson for the State Department confirmed to The Hill that it notified Congress of the sale on Tuesday.

The notification said the material would “be used to strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” according to The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the notification.

A potential $2 billion was set aside in Taiwan Foreign Military Financing (FMF) as part of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The package carves out $80 million, according to the State Department spokesperson.

The implication of FMF likely will escalate tensions between the U.S. and China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its sovereign territory and seeks reunification with the island.

Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to reunite with Taiwan, which is a self-governing island, and has protested all U.S. arms sales to the self-governing island.

The State Department spokesperson noted the provision of FMF funding to Taiwan does not represent a change in America’s current policy on the island, under which the U.S. does not support Taiwanese independence.

This is the second time the U.S. has provided military assistance under FMF to a non-nation-state, the first being to the African Union, American officials reportedly said per the AP.

FMF funding uses U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund the supply of materials to foreign countries.

AP reported the copy of the notification did not include exactly what military equipment or systems would be covered by the FMF funding, but listed items that could be covered include air and coastal defense systems, armed vehicles and ballistic missile cyber defenses.

FMF could also be used to support training for Taiwanese military forces.

The White House nor the State Department immediately responded to The Hill’s request for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated at 7:11 p.m.

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