The Biden administration has approved the first-ever military aid package for Taiwan using Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to buy US arms.
The Associated Press noted that FMF is typically reserved for sovereign, independent states, and the US does not recognize Taiwan as a country. US officials told AP that the only other time FMF has been used for a non-nation-state was assistance to the African Union, a bloc of 55 African states.
The FMF package is worth $80 million, but the administration did not disclose its contents in a notification to Congress. The 2023 National Defense Authorization Act included $2 billion in FMF funds for Taiwan. This marks the first time the funds have been used.
The assistance will infuriate China as Beijing is opposed to military ties between Washington and Taipei, especially new unprecedented types of support. In July, the Biden administration provided Taiwan with a $345 million arms package using the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for the first time.
The PDA allows President Biden to send weapons directly from US military stockpiles, which is the primary way the US has been arming Ukraine. The 2023 NDAA includes $1 billion in PDA funds for Taiwan.
Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan but has never financed the purchases or provided weapons free of charge until this year.
China hawks say the US needs to arm Taiwan “to the teeth” to prevent a Chinese attack on the island, but China has increased military pressure on Taiwan in response to the growing US military and diplomatic support for the island.