Will Biden’s decision kick off World War III? Hopefully not.
On Friday evening, the Biden administration made an announcement regarding a military aid package for Taiwan, amounting to $345 million. This marks the first time the United States has provided weapons to Taiwan using the Presidential Drawdown Authority. This authority enables the U.S. to directly supply equipment from its existing stockpiles to Taiwan. The move is likely to provoke Beijing at a time when the U.S. administration aims to improve relations with China.
According to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners, the aid package includes self-defense capabilities that will help Taiwan enhance its deterrence both now and in the future. The systems encompass critical defensive stockpiles, multi-domain awareness, and anti-armor and air defense capabilities.
According to the Washington Examiner, By utilizing the president’s drawdown authority, the U.S. can expedite the delivery of weapons to Taiwan compared to previous methods, such as Taiwan purchasing weapons directly from the U.S., which often takes longer.
During a press conference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin emphasized that the U.S. is committed to providing Taiwan with defensive capabilities to enable them to defend themselves, in line with the Taiwan Relations Act.
Earlier this month, a significant development occurred when a top Department of Defense official met with a Chinese government representative. This marked the first official meeting between the Pentagon and Beijing since November. The military-to-military relationship between the two countries had soured after the U.S. discovered a Chinese spy balloon flying over sensitive U.S. military locations. This spy balloon was ultimately shot down when it reached the Atlantic Ocean.
For several months, Chinese military leaders had been avoiding communication with their U.S. counterparts, raising concerns about the potential for misunderstandings and escalation between the two global powers. However, the recent meeting between Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Ely Ratner and Chinese Ambassador to the United States Xie Feng served as an effort to address this issue.
The discussions during the meeting covered defense relations, as well as various international and regional security matters. The U.S. emphasized the importance of maintaining open lines of military-to-military communication between both countries to avoid unintended incidents or escalation.
China has been actively modernizing and expanding its military capabilities over the years, leading to a more assertive posture toward Taiwan. Chinese leaders have publicly expressed their desire to achieve military readiness for a potential invasion of Taiwan to achieve unification by 2027.