Saturday 5 November 2022

Arms For Allies: Taiwan’s Military Donations

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Republic of China (ROC), popularly known as Taiwan, has seen the number of countries that recognise it as a sovereign country diminish from 24 in 2012 to 13 in 2023. The election of President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016 and in 2020 was met by a diplomatic offensive by the PRC to steal away the few remaining countries that still recognise the ROC as the sole legal government of China. Nonetheless, it can be argued that the de-jure recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign nation ultimately matters little, as it is de-facto already treated as one. Indeed, Taiwan has been lauded for its highly effective Covid-19 response, and Eastern European countries (including Ukraine) have not shied away from cosying up to Taiwan even under diplomatic pressure from the PRC. Still, international recognition is an important matter of national pride and Taiwan has invested significant resources in keeping countries committed to it.
One way to achieve this is through the donation of humanitarian and financial aid and sending doctors and other specialised personnel to allied countries, something both Taiwan and China have done extensively. This ultimately constitutes a losing battle to the ROC however, as any donation by Taiwan is easily overmatched by China. In 2018 China offered the Dominican Republic up to $3.1 billion in investments if it was to switch its recognition away from Taiwan to China (which it subsequently did), while Paraguay has urged Taiwan to invest at least $1 billion into the country amid complaints by the agricultural sector that a lack of access to the Chinese market is costing the country more money than Taiwan is providing in annual aid. [1] [2] 
Another method is through the provision of military aid, which both countries have also engaged in profusely. Though China frequently donates equipment such as vehicles and uniforms, Taiwan even goes as far as donating helicopters and naval craft. Equipment donations by Taiwan have included anything from UH-1H Huey transport helicopters to Hai Ou-Class Patrol Boats, HMMWVs and even VIP aircraft and helicopters to act as the transport of head of state. [3] Especially the UH-1H has played an important role in Taiwan's diplomacy, with as much as 30 examples having been donated to countries in Africa and South America over the past decades. It seems likely that more donated equipment is to find its way to the remaining countries that recognise Taiwan around the world, or even to Ukraine. [4]

One of four Hai Ou-Class Patrol Boats (formerly missile boats) donated to The Gambia in 2008.

A detailed list of armament, military vehicles and vessels known to have been donated by Taiwan to other countries can be viewed below. Miscellaneous equipment such as uniforms and non-military items like buses and motorcycles are not included in this list. The large numbers of T65 assault rifles that found their way to Central and South America are not included in this list as it is unclear if these were donated or actually purchased. This list is updated as new donations are declared.

(Click on the equipment type to view a picture of them in service with their new owners)


Burkina Faso [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2018]

The Gambia [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2013]

Eswatini (Swaziland)



North Macedonia [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2001]


South America




Dominican Republic [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2018]






Honduras [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2023]

Panama [Switched To Recognising PR Of China In 2017]

[1] Taiwan says China dangled $3 billion to grab ally Dominican Republic
[2] Will Taiwan lose another diplomatic ally to China?
[4] A Kindred Spirit: Taiwan’s Aid To War-Torn Ukraine
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