By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
On Tuesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) responded to US plans to provide Taiwan with $500 million in unprecedented military aid and reports that said hundreds of US troops have been deployed to the island, warning it will “firmly crush attempts at external interference.”
Taiwan’s defense minister recently said that Washington and Taipei are in talks about the US providing $500 million in “free” weapons. The arms will be sent using the Presidential Drawdown Authority, the same authority President Biden has been using to arm Ukraine, which allows him to ship weapons straight from US military stockpiles. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed on Tuesday that the Pentagon plans to send arms to Taiwan using the PDA soon.
Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan but never provided them free of charge. Taiwanese media also recently reported that about 200 US troops have been deployed to Taiwan to assist in training, marking the largest known US military presence in Taiwan in decades.
According to a PLA press release, PLA spokesman Col. Tan Kefe said attempts “of the US side to turn back the wheel of history on the Taiwan question are absolutely intolerable.”
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When asked about the aid and the troop deployment, Tan said the US has “the US has stepped up its military collusion with the DPP (Democratic Progressive Party) authorities by strengthening military contacts and upgrading substantive relations between the two sides, which has shaken the foundation of the China-US relations and undermined the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Tan said that the issue of Taiwan is the “first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations,” something Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Biden when the two leaders met face-to-face in Bali last November. Beijing views Washington’s recent efforts to increase support for Taiwan as an affront to the US’s one-China policy.
Tan noted that Washington severing diplomatic relations with Taipei, ending its Mutual Defense Treaty with the island, and withdrawing troops were “the preconditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US.”
He called on the US to stop increasing support for Taiwan and “reiterated that the Chinese PLA will continue to strengthen military training and combat readiness, firmly crush ‘Taiwan independence’ attempts and external interference in any form, and resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Hawks in Washington argue the US must arm Taiwan “to the teeth” to prevent a Chinese invasion of the island. But Beijing’s rhetoric and actions demonstrate that Taiwan will be put under more military pressure in response to growing US-Taiwan ties.
For example, China launched its largest-ever military exercises in August 2022 in response to then-House Speaker visiting Taiwan. In April of this year, the PLA conducted similar drills after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.