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Taiwan is going to receive a weapons aid package, valued at a substantial $345 million ( 2,838 crore), from the United States. Despite keeping the specifics of the arms package confidential, this move is likely to provoke China, as Taiwan strongly opposes China’s claims of sovereignty. 

The 2023 budget has granted Congress the power to offer up to $1 billion ( 8,226 crore) worth of weapons aid to Taiwan, much to the dismay of Beijing, which has been the primary supplier of arms to the island and persistently demands that the U.S. refrain from selling weapons to Taiwan.

The formal announcement of the aid package did not disclose the weapon systems included in it. However, there were previous reports suggesting that the package could contain four unarmed MQ-9A reconnaissance drones. 

Nonetheless, the final selection of equipment might be subject to alteration, as officials are considering removing certain advanced equipment that is exclusively available to the U.S. Air Force, Reuters reported.

In the midst of the escalating tensions between the United States, Taiwan, and China, the unveiling of this weapons aid package underscores the intricate complexities in the region. The implications of this move have far-reaching consequences for the geopolitical dynamics in East Asia.

Taiwan’s defence ministry thanked the U.S. for its “firm security commitment,” adding in a statement it will not comment on the package details due to the “tacit agreement” between the two sides.

Among the issues that could confound the inclusion of the drones was who would pay for their alterations, one of the people briefed on the matter said previously. Reuters could not determine if the drones were still part of the package.

Taiwan had previously agreed to purchase four, more advanced, MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, made by General Atomics, which are slated for delivery in 2025.

Why US’ move may provoke China

China considers Taiwan, which is governed democratically, as part of its own territory and has escalated military intimidation towards the island in the last three years. China has maintained its stance on using force if necessary to assert control over Taiwan. 

However, Taiwan vehemently opposes China’s claims of sovereignty and firmly asserts that the future of the island should be determined solely by the Taiwanese people.

(With Reuters inputs)

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Updated: 29 Jul 2023, 02:43 PM IST

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