2023-0831: U.S. Announces First-Ever FMF Military Assistance to Taiwan; U.K. Parliament Report Calls Taiwan “Independent Country”

U.S. Announces First-Ever Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Assistance to Taiwan under Program Normally Reserved for Sovereign States

The Biden administration has approved the first-ever transfer of U.S. military assistance to Taiwan under the U.S. State Department’s “Foreign Military Financing” (FMF) program typically reserved for assistance to sovereign, independent states.

In a written response to CNA about the news, first reported by the Associated Press, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “On August 29, 2023, the Administration notified Congress of its intent to provide Taiwan with $80 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance.”

According to the U.S. State Department spokesperson, the FMF funds are “consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act and the U.S.’ longstanding ‘one China’ policy, which has not changed.”

“The United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. The United States has an abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is critical to regional and global security and prosperity,” the U.S. official said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense thanked the U.S. for approving the FMF funds, as well as for honoring the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances and bolstering Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities.

Separately on August 30, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) said in a statement: “I am glad the administration is further implementing our bipartisan Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act by finally providing FMF to Taiwan.”

“These weapons will not only help Taiwan and protect other democracies in the region but also strengthen the U.S. deterrence posture and ensure our national security from an increasingly aggressive CCP [Chinese Communist Party],” McCaul added.

The U.S. government did not specify what military equipment or systems would be paid for under FMF, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the State Department notification sent to Congress.

However, the notification said items that could be covered include air and coastal defense systems, armored vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, drones, ballistic missile and cyber defenses, and advanced communications equipment, the Associated Press reported.

Although the “Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act,” included in the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023” (FY23 NDAA), authorized up to US$2 billion in annual FMF grant assistance to Taiwan for each of the fiscal years from 2023 to 2027, that annual military grant was not included in the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023,” which provides the legal basis for the U.S. government’s appropriations of funds.

The FY23 NDAA also authorized up to US$2 billion in FMF loan for Taiwan during fiscal years 2023 through 2027, and that military loan was approved by the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act as well.

According to CNA, the U.S. State Department has not yet clarified whether the latest FMF funds for Taiwan will be in the form of a military grant or a loan.

Last month, on July 28, the Biden administration also announced a US$345 million military aid package to Taiwan, in what would be Washington’s first major package drawing from the U.S.’ existing stockpiles under expedited “Presidential Drawdown Authority” (PDA). This will get weapons delivered faster than providing funding for new weapons.

Last week, on August 23, the Pentagon said that the U.S. had approved a $500 million arms sale package to Taiwan of “infrared search and track systems” (IRST) for F-16 fighter jets and other related equipment ― the 11th U.S. arms sale to Taiwan approved by the Biden administration.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202308310003
[2] Associated Press: https://apnews.com/article/us-military-aid-taiwan-sovereign-one-china-policy-23dbe7da92c63bc33e93f95ab09b7f2b
[3] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/biden-approves-military-aid-taiwan-under-program-normally-used-sovereign-states-2023-08-30/
[4] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/08/25/2003805249

U.K. Parliamentary Report Describes Taiwan as “Independent Country”

On August 30, Taiwan’s government welcomed a new report from the U.K. House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, which described Taiwan as “an independent country” for the first time, and expressed concern over China’s increasing threat to regional peace.

The new British parliamentary report, titled “Tilting horizons: the Integrated Review and the Indo-Pacific,” included Taiwan in its “countries” section, emphasizing the Foreign Affairs Committee’s “resolute belief in the importance of protecting the right to self-determination and to choose your [Taiwan’s] own Government, free from threat or coercion.”

“Taiwan is already an independent country, under the name Republic of China (ROC),” the report says. “Taiwan possesses all the qualifications of statehood, including a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other states—it is only lacking greater international recognition.”

“Taiwan’s government has not made an official proclamation of independence—because China regards that as a casus belli—but [Taiwan] President Tsai Ing-wen states that this is because Taiwan is ‘an independent country already’ so has no need to declare itself an independent state.”

The report offered a rarely-seen clarity in its historical interpretation of Taiwan’s sovereignty, and refutation of Beijing’s territorial claim over Taiwan based on the myth that Taiwan has been part of China since ancient times.

“Although Chinese officials claim that Taiwan has been part of China for 1,800 years, it was only when the Manchu Empire took control of China and Taiwan that China ruled there. However, just as the British Empire took control of India and Sri Lanka at the same time, it did not make Sri Lanka part of India,” the report stated.

The reports noted that extensive opinion polling shows that “Taiwan people don’t want to be part of China.” However, “China has been developing its military with the taking of Taiwan, via force or coercion, in mind.”

The committee report called on the U.K. Government to develop “deterrence diplomacy” — building up resilience and defense cooperation in order to deter malicious actors — and to use this to protect “the right of self-determination of the people of Taiwan.”

As U.K. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is on an official visit to China this week, “it is imperative the foreign secretary steadfastly and vocally stand by Taiwan and make clear we will uphold Taiwan’s right to self-determination,” British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Alicia Kearns said in a POLITICO report.

“This commitment aligns not only with British values but also serves as a poignant message to autocratic regimes worldwide that sovereignty cannot be attained through violence or coercion,” Kearns added.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202308300012
[2] Taiwan English News: https://taiwanenglishnews.com/uk-parliamentary-report-calls-taiwan-an-independent-country-while-cleverly-visiting-beijing/
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/08/31/2003805533