Taiwan and the USA consider weapons suitable for defending themselves from China

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is lobbying the Taiwanese government to order US-made weapons that would help its small military fend off a maritime invasion by China rather than weapons designed for conventional warfare, current and former US officials say and Taiwanese.

The U.S. campaign to shape Taiwan’s defenses has grown in urgency since it was carried out on a massive scale Russian invasion of Ukraine ordered in late February by President Vladimir V. Putin. The war convinced Washington and Taipei that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the coming years is now a potential danger and that a smaller army with the right weapons that has adopted an asymmetric warfare strategy, in which it focuses on mobility and attack. precision, it can repel a larger enemy.

American officials are reviewing the Taiwanese military’s capabilities to determine if it can repel an invasion, as Ukrainian forces have done.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is trying to steer the country’s military into asymmetric warfare and has moved to purchase a large number of mobile and lethal weapons that are difficult to target and counter.

But some Taiwanese defense officials are resistant. And US officials have decided that some weapon systems the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has tried to order: the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter made by Lockheed Martin, for example, are not suitable for war against the Chinese army.

US officials warned their Taiwanese counterparts that the State Department would reject such requests. They also told US arms manufacturers to refrain from asking US agencies to approve Taiwanese orders for certain weapons. The procurement process is complex, with many parties involved.

The Biden administration’s push has expanded and accelerated similar efforts by officials from the Trump and Obama administrations. Democratic and Republican officials and lawmakers say a lesson from the war in Ukraine is the United States must help turn Taiwan into a “porcupine” to discourage potential attacks from China.

The nine current and former US and Taiwanese officials familiar with the discussions spoke on condition of anonymity due to the delicacy of the negotiations.

“I feel like there has been a change,” he said Bonnie S GlaserEast Asian analyst at the US German Marshall Fund. “It started before the invasion of Ukraine, but I think it has really solidified since then. There has been this wake-up call at the Pentagon to make sure Taiwan is serious, and so do we. “

State Department and Pentagon officials have been involved in discussions with the Taiwanese government. Lawmakers and congressional aides have delivered similar messages. The Biden administration too sent a bipartisan delegation of five former senior national security officials in Taiwan in early March to speak with Ms. Tsai and other officials about the country’s defense strategy and arms procurement, among other issues.

“Continuing to pursue systems that will not significantly contribute to an effective defense strategy is not consistent with the evolving security threat Taiwan faces,” a State Department representative said in a statement. “As such, the United States strongly supports Taiwan’s efforts to implement an asymmetric defense strategy.”

Another State Department official said the gun conversations with Taiwan took place early in the Biden administration, and both governments are now examining the lessons learned from the war in Ukraine.

For decades, Communist-ruled China has promised to bring Taiwan, a democratic island with de facto independence that is a partner of the United States, under its control. Although there are no signs of an impending war, Chinese President Xi Jinping has adopted a more aggressive foreign policy than his predecessors, and US officials fear he might invade Taiwan to seal his legacy.

the Taiwan Relations Law of 1979 obliges the US government to provide defensive equipment to Taiwan. Each administration has since maintained a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the issue of military intervention, meaning that it has not explicitly said whether the US military would defend Taiwan if China attacked.

President Biden said he would keep US troops out of fighting in Ukraine, but he authorized shipments of small mobile weapons that helped Ukrainian forces defeat the Russian military in critical battles, including around Kiev, the capital. The Ukrainian army has used an asymmetrical strategy to great effect, mounting tenacious resistance against Russian tanks, fighters and groups of battalions. The Ukrainian arsenal includes Javelin and Stinger missiles and armed drones.

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be different from the efforts of the Russian military in Ukraine and would be more difficult. Chinese warships are expected to cross more than 100 miles of water in the Taiwan Strait and land their forces on the island. The Chinese and Taiwanese sides of the strait are filled with missiles aimed at each other, and the United States and allied nations regularly send warships across the waterway as a show of strength.

Supplying a defeated island of Taiwan with arms may prove to be more difficult for the United States and its allies than it has been in Ukraine. As a result, some officials are considering stockpiling large quantities of ammunition in Taiwan.

In 2019, the State Department authorized a $ 2.2 billion arms sale to Taiwan that included 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks. Some US officials at the time privately criticized the sale, saying that if Chinese forces advance enough in an invasion to force Taiwan to use tanks, then the island would likely be doomed.

Many of Taiwan’s most recent orders have been in line with an asymmetric strategy. But some Taiwanese officials continue to pressure American officials on the demand for expensive conventional platforms like Abrams tanks.

Several defense experts in Taiwan argue that the island will need some traditional systems to prepare for different war scenarios involving China.

“We have accepted many of the US recommendations, but we still need to have some room to make preparations for the possibility of other long-term scenarios,” said Chieh Chung, a security analyst at the National Policy Foundation in Taipei. He said he was concerned that Ukraine was induced by the Americans to dig even deeper into the idea of ​​asymmetry, regardless of Taiwan’s specific needs.

“Our artillery systems are so old. They need to be updated, “she added.” How can you ask us to take WWII-era equipment to defend ourselves from China

On Thursday, Chiu Kuo-cheng, the defense minister, told parliament that the ministry had abandoned a plan to buy the MH-60R helicopters because they were too expensive. He did not mention that US officials had pushed Taiwan not to buy the helicopters. US and Taiwanese officials are also discussing whether Taiwan should purchase E-2D aircraft manufactured by Northrop Grumman.

In recent weeks, Taiwanese officials have expressed their frustrations with the US government and US arms manufacturers, complaining about delivery delays and backorders. Ms. Tsai herself has sent messages to Washington, officials said.

Mr. Chiu said two arms orders had been delayed. One is the purchase of M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, made by BAE Systems, which US officials said were blocked due to inadequate production capacity, according to Taiwanese officials. The Defense Department said it is now evaluating several alternatives offered by the United States, including HIMARS artillery rocket launchers. BAE Systems said Defense news last week he had the ability to build howitzers for Taiwan.

A Stinger anti-aircraft missile order was also delayed, Chiu said.

Ukraine asked Regular shipments of Javelin and Stinger missiles, and the Biden administration provides them. Mr. Chiu said Taiwan had already signed a contract for Stingers and paid for it. The State Department official said the war in Ukraine did not affect the order in Taiwan.

Stingers are among the types of weapons US officials have encouraged Taiwan to order. The Americans also pushed Taiwan to purchase Boeing’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles. In April, the Ukrainian forces sank a Russian flagship, Moskva, using Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missiles. That attack, which was carried out with the help of American-supplied intelligence, was a defining moment of the war.

Some US officials say Taiwan is also expected to increase its purchases of coastal air defense missile systems, armed drones and sea mines.

“The question is, how focused are you on asymmetric warfare relative to other priorities?” She said Evan S. Medeirosa senior Asian executive on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.

Suspicions in Washington and Taipei about China’s intentions towards Taiwan increased during the war in Ukraine as Chinese officials consistently supported Mr. Putin’s reasons for his invasion and helped spread disinformation and conspiracy theories that favor Russia.

On February 4, when Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin met in Beijing prior to the start of the Winter Olympics, their two governments issued a joint statement saying their partnership “had no limits.” One line said that Russia claimed Taiwan “is an inalienable part of China”.

Edoardo Wong reported by Washington, e amy qin from Taipei, Taiwan.