For decades, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan over China's strong objections. While Beijing claims the island is part of the People's Republic of China, Washington does not take a position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty, holding that the issue should be resolved peacefully by both sides — while supporting Taiwan's self-defense capabilities. But tensions between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan have been rising recently as the US-China relationship deteriorates more broadly. If China were to someday invade Taiwan — which it regards as a renegade province that sooner or later will be brought under mainland China's control — would the US come to the island's defense? A 1979 law provides "strategic ambiguity" on whether America would have to. In the meantime, US arms sales have bolstered Taiwan's defense deterrent while China's military budget has skyrocketed. We take a look at US military sales to Taiwan compared with China's own defense spending over the last 30 years.
This article has been updated to correct an error that stated the US recognized Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China. In fact, the US acknowledges that is China's position, but does not recognize it. We apologize for the error.