The Biden administration is sending Taiwan a $345 million package of weapons drawn from U.S. stockpiles, the White House announced Friday.
This marks the first time the U.S. is sending equipment to Taiwan from its own stocks using the presidential drawdown authority. Congress authorized about $1 billion for presidential drawdown packages for Taiwan in the annual defense bill passed last year for the 2023 fiscal year.
Drawing down from U.S. inventories is a quick way to transfer equipment, as evidenced by the more than 40 drawdowns the administration has sent Ukraine since August 2021. Drawdowns bypass the foreign-military sales process, which can take years to deliver weapons and equipment. What will be in the drawdown package for Taiwan and its estimated delivery date are not yet clear.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners said the drawdown “includes self-defense capabilities that Taiwan will be able to use to build to bolster deterrence now and in the future.” And he added, “Systems included in the $345 million package address critical defensive stockpiles, multi-domain awareness, anti-armor and air defense capabilities.”
The transfer of equipment is part of the U.S. commitment to support Taiwan’s self defense to deter or stop a potential Chinese attack. China is developing the military capability to invade Taiwan by 2027, although senior U.S. officials say this doesn’t mean China has decided to attack or invade Taiwan.
“The decision-making process would still have to occur,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said earlier this month. “You want to make sure every single day President Xi wakes up and says today’s not that day, and that that decision never comes. That’s the whole essence of deterrence.”
The announcement will likely anger Beijing, just as the U.S. and China have started reestablishing relations after the Chinese spy balloon incident. Several senior leaders have met over the summer, but military-to-military relations remain dormant. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin still has not met with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfu since Li took office in March.
CBS News reporter covering the Pentagon.