The flags of Taiwan and USA are on display during the ceremonial opening of the 'Taiwan Council for US Affairs' office in Taipei, Taiwan, 06 June 2019. EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

US announces historic $345 million Taiwan military aid package

Washington, Jul 28 (EFE).- The White House announced Friday a historic military aid package for Taiwan worth $345 million, amid tension between the United States and China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (C) poses for a group photo during her visit to a Military base in Taiwan, 15 January 2021. EFE-EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

The US government released a memorandum signed by President Joe Biden addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, authorizing the shipment to the island of military equipment from the Pentagon inventory.

The text does not specify the components of the package, but a congressional employee familiar with the aid told The Hill that it contains intelligence and surveillance capabilities, firearms, missiles, and portable anti-aircraft defense systems, known as MANPADS.

US media said it’s the first time Washington will send this type of aid to Taiwan from the defense department inventory, instead of the US program of military sales abroad.

The mechanism used on this occasion is similar to that used by the US to allocate security aid to Ukraine, proving fast and effective.

In its 2023 budget, the US Congress authorized the shipment of up to $1 billion worth of arms to Taiwan through the procedure now being used.

Asked by journalists before the package announcement, White House spokesman John Kirby said Friday that the US takes its responsibilities towards Taiwan and the improvement of its defense capabilities “very, very seriously.”

“Nothing has changed about that and we will continue to look at ways to do that,” he said.

Taiwan is one of the main sources of tension between the US and China, since the North American country is Taipei’s main arms supplier, something that Beijing has repeatedly protested.

In mid-July, the island’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Taiwan is buying the American NASAMS 2 anti-aircraft missile system.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a territory it considers a “rebel province” since Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the war against the communist army. EFE