26.08.2023 Author: Fernando Gaillardo

Washington’s deadly gifts – gratuitous arms shipments to Taiwan

gratuitous arms shipments to Taiwan

Will the “special” military assistance from the United States save the island, or will it only increase the degree of confrontation in the Taiwan Strait.

At the end of July this year, US President Joe Biden announced the allocation of another package of military assistance to Taiwan in the amount of up to $345 million. Unlike previous deliveries, this tranche will become special – free of charge, through a special mechanism of the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). Previously, the PDA format, which allows weapons to be shipped directly from the Pentagon’s warehouses without unnecessary approval from Congress and bureaucratic procedures, was used only for military assistance to Ukraine.

Now Taipei will be able to start receiving military products within a matter of days and even hours from the moment the decree is signed by the US President without lengthy approvals: consideration and approval of applications, placement of orders, production, etc. And all this “pleasure” at the expense of American taxpayers.

It is not clear what positive effect politicians in Washington and Taipei were counting on, but the very next day after the White House published its decision, China sent as many as six ships of the PLA Navy to the Taiwan Strait. Beijing rightly noted that pumping the island with American weapons only pushes Taiwan towards disaster, turns the region into a “powder keg” and multiplies the risk of an armed conflict between the two coasts.

However, for the United States, which aims to turn Taiwan into an instrument of China’s military containment and a bargaining chip for its policy in the region, such a prospect seems quite acceptable. It does not matter that in the event of a full-scale conflict between Beijing and Taipei, as a result of a massive missile strike, the island’s armed forces will lose most of their equipment in the very first days. The main thing is to persuade Taiwan towards the concept of “asymmetric defense”, which involves wearing down the PLA by fighting a large number of small-sized, highly mobile and relatively cheap weapons systems. Such, for example, as the Stinger man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems or the Javelin anti-tank missile systems, with which the US Congress calls for “arming Taiwan to the teeth.” As a result, according to the plans of the American generals, the damage inflicted on China will have to be many times greater than the cost of the weapons used for this.

In this light, the inclusion of Taiwan in the PDA mechanism is of great political importance for Washington, it turns it from an ordinary foreign customer into a priority partner. On this issue, even between bitter rivals – the Democratic and Republican parties of the United States – there is a broad consensus.


Fernando Gaillardo, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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