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US aid for Taiwan 'will only increase tensions,' China says

April 24, 2024

US President Joe Bidensigned off on fresh assistance for Taiwan, allowing the island to upgrade its military hardware. Taiwan's president-elect says it will "safeguard peace," but China says it raises the risk of war.

A Taiwanese flag on naval warships during a drill near the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung
China has expressed anger that the Taiwanese military is getting a boost from the USImage: Ritchie B. Tongo/dpa/picture alliance

China on Wednesday decried a fresh package of US military aid for Taiwan, which is intended to boost the island's defenses in the case of a possible Chinese invasion. 

The US Senate passed the $8 billion (€7.48 billion) military aid package late Tuesday, as part of larger legislation that includes fresh assistance for Israel and Ukraine. Having already passed the House, US President Joe Biden later on Wednesday signed the package into law. 

How can Taiwan defend itself from China?

China: US aid to Taiwan raises 'risk of conflict'     

"I'd like to emphasize that the United States and Taiwan strengthening military ties will not bring about security for Taiwan," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. He said the assistance "will only increase tensions and the risk of conflict across the Taiwan Strait."

A Chinese spokesperson for the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office, Zhu Fenglian, said the aid violates US commitments to China and "sends a wrong signal to the Taiwan independence separatist forces."

China does not view Taiwan as a separate country, but rather as a breakaway province. The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, with the communists taking control of the Chinese mainland and the nationalist Kuomintang retreating to Taiwan. 

Taiwan 'very happy' with aid package 

Taiwanese incumbent President Tsai ing-Wen, meanwhile, was pleased with the aid package. 

"We are also very happy that the Senate has just passed these bills," Tsai said during a meeting with a US congressional delegation in Taipei. Tsai belongs to the center-left Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which emphasizes Taiwan's separate identity from the mainland. 

A day earlier, Taiwan's incoming president, Lai Ching-te, said the US assistance would "strengthen the deterrence against authoritarianism in the West Pacific ally chain" and "help ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and also boost confidence in the region." Lai is also a member of the DPP. 

The US aid package will help modernize Taiwan's forces as China frequently conducts military maneuvers near the island.

Western leaders such as Biden have expressed concerns that China may take control of Taiwan by force in the coming years.

A Chinese invasion would not only cost human lives, but it could be a massive blow to the global economy — the island is a major producer of semiconductor chips which are used in everything from cellphones to automobiles. 

China-Taiwan conflict: How it could ruin the global economy

The fresh US aid to Taiwan comes as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits China on Wednesday.

Blinken is expected to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on Friday, with Taiwan near the top of the agenda. The top US diplomat may also meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has earlier suggested that Chinese reunification with Taiwan is "inevitable." 

wd/sms (AP, AFP)