A group of Republican senators introduced a bill Thursday that would give Taiwan $2 billion to purchase weapons each year through 2032, as Republican support to provide the island with military aid grows.
The Taiwan Deterrence Act was led by Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) and co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Mitt Romney (R-UT), John Cornyn (R-TX). On top of the $2 billion in aid, the bill would amend the Arms Export Control Act to make it easier for the US to sell weapons to Taiwan.
On Tuesday, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced a similar piece of legislation that would give Taiwan $3 billion each year from 2023 to 2027. Both bills are conditional on Taiwan matching the US spending and increasing its military budget.
For 2022, Taiwan has approved a military budget of $16.8 billion, or 2.1 percent of the island’s GDP. For comparison, the US spends up to 3.5 percent of its GDP on its military. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen plans to increase the island’s military spending to about 3 percent GDP.
Even with Tsai’s planned increase, the aid the Republicans want to give Taiwan would be a sizeable chunk of its military budget. US military aid to Taiwan would greatly benefit American arms makers, as would Taiwan increasing its military budget.
Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, the US has continued to sell weapons to the island. Over the decades, the US has deployed small numbers of troops to train Taipei’s military, but those missions have been unofficial until very recently. Last month, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed the presence of US forces on the island, making her the first Taiwanese leader to do so since 1979.