Taiwan split from China in 1949 amid a civil war.
Chinese President Xi Jinping maintains China’s right to take over the now self-ruled island, by force if necessary. China has accused the US of turning Taiwan into a “powder keg” through the billions of dollars in weapons sales it has pledged.
The US maintains a “One China” policy under which it does not recognise Taiwan’s formal independence and has no formal diplomatic relations with the island in deference to Beijing. However, US law requires a credible defence for Taiwan and for the US to treat all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”.
Getting stockpiles of weapons to Taiwan now, before an attack begins, is one of the lessons the US has learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pentagon deputy defence secretary Kathleen Hicks told The Associated Press earlier this year.
Ukraine “was more of a cold-start approach than the planned approach we have been working on for Taiwan, and we will apply those lessons”, Hicks said. Efforts to resupply Taiwan after a conflict erupted would be complicated because it is an island, she said.
In the past year, the Chinese military has held two major drills around Taiwan, simulating targeted strikes and a blockade of the island.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for China’s embassy in Washington, said in a statement Friday that Beijing was “firmly opposed” to US military ties with Taiwan. The US should “stop selling arms to Taiwan” and “stop creating new factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait”, Liu said.