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Senior US Lawmaker Calls for More Weapons to Taiwan to Deter China


FILE - Taiwan's military fire artillery from self-propelled Howitzers during the annual Han Kuang exercises in Hsinchu, northeastern Taiwan, Sept. 10, 2015.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said Saturday the United States would help provide Taiwan armed forces training and expedite weapons deliveries, as China began three days of military exercises around the self-ruled island.

Speaking at a luncheon in Taipei, McCaul expressed U.S. support for Taiwan. “I sign off on those deliveries and we are doing everything in our power to expedite this,” he said. “Peace through strength is real, and that’s why we need to harden Taiwan.”

One way to speed up the delivery of arms to Taiwan, McCaul said, is to assess high-risk and high-threat areas and rearrange the order of the arms deliveries.

The Chinese military said Saturday combat readiness patrols and “Joint Sword” exercises around Taiwan had begun as planned, adding it was a “serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces’ and external forces’ collusion and provocation.”

Earlier this week, after meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the decadeslong policy of selling arms to Taiwan represents a cross-party consensus in the U.S. Congress, and that the Biden administration should also know the importance of strengthening arms sales to Taiwan and accelerating the delivery of weapons.

A story by The Wall Street Journal last November indicated that the backlog of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan had reached $18.7 billion including 208 Javelin missiles and 215 Stinger missiles that showed their prowess in the Ukraine war.

McCaul said the strengthening of Taiwan through arms sales and the joint military training will show China that it will pay a huge military and economic price if it tries to invade or encircle Taiwan.

"We want to do everything possible to deter a very aggressive nation, Communist China, from ever thinking about landing on the shores of this beautiful island, because that would be a serious mistake for everybody," he said.

Due to China's longstanding pressure, many countries are reluctant to sell arms to Taiwan. At the end of the last century, the Netherlands sold submarines to Taiwan, and France sold Mirage fighter jets and Lafayette warships to Taiwan, all of which caused strong reactions from Beijing.

Tzu-Yun Su, an associate research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taipei, said the countries that can export weapons quickly are mainly Western European nations as well as Japan and South Korea. He said, for example, the production speed of anti-ship missiles in Western European countries can make up for the lack of production of Harpoon missiles in the U.S.

He also said the production speed of South Korea's military industry should not be underestimated since it recently delivered K9 self-propelled howitzers and K2 tanks to Poland. Japan has also revised its arms export regulations and can sell weapons to other countries.

Su said, “But I think the most important thing is that this symbolizes that the democratic arsenal of the West may be further integrated in the future. Then it will be very helpful to resist the military threats from the Chinese Communist Party and Russia. Taiwan's own defense industry also has the opportunity to reconsider joining the supply chain industry."

However, Ying-Yu Lin, an assistant professor at the Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taipei, believes the biggest problem facing third-party arms sales to Taiwan is system integration. He said Taiwan still uses American weapons in bulk, which may not be compatible with other countries’ weapons. For example, the main fighters of the Taiwan Air Force are the U.S.-made F-16 fighters and the French-made Mirage fighters, which are two different systems.

Lin told VOA, "For system integration and logistics supplies, it may be possible to obtain military assistance from other countries, but at most it is about cooperation on some technologies. In the end, if integration is to be carried out, it may be possible. It will still take some time and there will be some difficulties.

Besides the weapons provided by the U.S., there is also a continuing military training program that has seen a rise in the number of U.S. troops sent to the island.

When asked Friday whether he would welcome the presence of the U.S. military in Taiwan, You Si-Kun, president of Taiwan's Legislative Yuan, said, "We welcome any friendly country to resist the foreign aggression of authoritarian dictatorships."