The United States government is implementing a process to normalise defence sales to Taiwan, moving away from its long-held strategy of packaging – or “bundling” – several defence contracts in one announcement.
understands that the move is intended to position Taiwan as a ‘normal’ US Foreign Military Sale (FMS) partner whereby requests to procure US military equipment are considered and approved on a case-by-case basis and do not progress in batches.
Taiwan’s most recent US purchase request featured the proposed procurement of more than 100 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks (pictured). (US Army)
The new strategy is intended to reduce the existing high-profile nature of military export announcements to Taiwan. In turn, this is intended to minimise the displeasure that China, which regards Taiwan as a province, frequently expresses about such military deals.
The change in strategy has been signposted in recent US government documents and in recent comments made by Randall Schriver, the US assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs.
understands that the change in strategy is being implemented in all new Taiwan military procurement requests.
“The United States should improve the predictability of arms sales to Taiwan by ensuring timely review of, and response to, requests of Taiwan for defence articles and defence services as well as timely notification to Congress and adherence to congressional oversight and review procedures,” said the 2020 national defence authorisation bill, which was passed by the US Senate in late June. The bill must still be reconciled with its House counterpart, passed by the full Congress, and enacted by the president.