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Taiwan thanks US for aid package, says will ‘safeguard peace’

US Congressional support for Taiwan 'extremely strong', says lawmaker

Taiwan will work with the United States to “safeguard peace and freedom” in the region, the island’s premier said on Monday, after Washington approved billions in military aid for Taipei in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

The US House of Representatives on Saturday passed four bills in a $95 billion package, approving military aid to Ukraine and bolstering Israel’s defences.

Some $8 billion under one bill would be used to counter China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to bring the democratic island under its control.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said Sunday that about $1.9 billion is earmarked for replenishing its military equipment and training and another $2 billion will used for “foreign military financing” for countries in the region including Taiwan.

The announcement also comes days before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits China, hoping to press Beijing to curb wartime support for Russia.

“A peaceful and stable Taiwan Strait is a most important key to peace and prosperity in the world,” Taiwanese Premier Chen Chien-jen said Monday.

“Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded countries including the United States and all countries in the free democratic camp… to safeguard peace and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region and make the Taiwan Strait area more stable,” he added.

The 180-kilometre (110-mile) waterway separates Taiwan from China and is among the world’s busiest shipping routes.

It is also a hotspot of tensions between Beijing and Taipei, as relations have plummeted since 2016 after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came into power.

She has refused to acknowledge Beijing’s claim over the island, saying instead that Taiwan is “already independent”, and during her two terms has bolstered defence spending for the island’s armed forces.

Her office on Sunday thanked the US Congress for approving the bills, which “shows that the United States’ security commitment to Taiwan has a clear bipartisan consensus,” said Presidential spokeswoman Olivia Lin.

Washington’s top diplomat Blinken’s trip marks a lowering of US-China friction that soared under former president Donald Trump.

High on his agenda will be what US officials say is a major push by China that has helped Russia, in the throes of the Ukraine invasion, carry out its biggest militarisation since Soviet times.

But Beijing has regularly expressed anger at international support for Taipei and criticised the US of meddling in its affairs.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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