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Taiwan President-elect: US military aid package strengthens deterrence against authoritarianism 

FILE - Taiwan's president-elect Lai Ching-te speaks during a press conference in Taipei on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)
FILE - Taiwan's president-elect Lai Ching-te speaks during a press conference in Taipei on April 10, 2024. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP)

Taiwan’s President-elect Lai Ching-te says the U.S. House of Representatives passage over the weekend of an $8 billion military aid package to counter China’s influence will “strengthen deterrence against authoritarianism” and “boost confidence in the region.”

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $95 billion joint aid bill Saturday that included money for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. That bill is set to be voted on in the U.S. Senate Tuesday.

Of the $8 billion in military aid for the Indo-Pacific, $1.9 billion in the bill is allocated to replenishing U.S. weapons sent to Taiwan and other allies in the region.

Lai said the bill shows Washington's “commitment to Taiwan’s security,” adding that it would “help ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and also boost confidence in the region.”

Lai made his remarks about the bill while speaking with a visiting U.S. delegation that included two visiting U.S. representatives from the state of Michigan, Lisa McClain, a Republican, and Dan Kildee, a Democrat. The two lawmakers are visiting Taiwan to discuss regional security.

The progress of the aid in Congress comes as tensions between with China are on the rise. Beijing claims the self-ruled island is part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to make that goal a reality. Since Lai was elected in January, Beijing has been ramping up the pressure on Taipei, regularly sending fighter jets and navy ships into waters and air space around Taiwan.

Kildee said that the timing of the delegation’s visit is significant, as it follows the House passage of the aid bill. He said the bill would “provide very important support to ensure security in this region.”

During the meeting, McClain said: “Peace is our goal. But to do that, we have to have relationships and we value your relationship. Not only militarily, but economically,” McClain said of Taiwan during the visit.

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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