The NYT says the United States wants to use what it has learned to arm Ukraine to prepare Taiwan for a possible Chinese attack.
The United States is seeking to reshape Taiwan’s defense system in light of its experience sending military aid to Ukraine, which is currently embroiled in a conflict with Russia, the New York Times reported Tuesday, citing unnamed U.S. officials. Washington’s new strategy focuses on providing Taiwan with an asymmetric defense capability that will help it shut down a more powerful force, the paper said.
Taiwan’s latest arms purchases from the United States reflect this changing approach, NYT said, with mobile rocket platforms, F-16 fighter jets and anti-ship missiles. “More suitable for resisting an attacking force.” At the same time, Washington has reportedly discouraged Taipei from buying MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and M1A2 Abrams tanks.
Analysts told NYT that future purchases could include sea mines and armed drones. “These will include smart mines, anti-ship cruise missiles, cyber security capabilities and special forces that can neutralize Chinese advance teams and air defense systems,” said James Stavridis, a retired four-star admiral and former dean of the Fletcher School of Law. And diplomacy at Tufts University, told the media outlet.
U.S. officials say mobile land-based harpoon anti-ship missiles and Stinger anti-air missiles are important for the island nation’s defense. According to the paper, the United States could share intelligence with Taiwan’s military to make its actions more effective in the event of a conflict, as it currently does in Ukraine.
“The goal is to turn Taiwan into what some officials call ‘Percupine’ – a region that is overrun with weapons and other types of US-led support that would be very painful to attack.” NYT says.
News outlets say arms imports from the United States have risen sharply over the past decade. The Pentagon has announced more than 23 23 billion in arms sales to the U.S. island nation since 2010, according to a 2021 report. In 2020, the United States signed a total of 5 5 billion worth of arms deals with Taiwan. Sales included advanced drones, long-range missiles and artillery, as well as anti-ship missiles.
In light of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, it has been suggested that Washington could impose economic sanctions on Beijing if it invades Taiwan. According to NYT, U.S. officials are discussing whether they can replicate these measures.
However, officials and analysts have warned NYT that Washington is going too far in its support. “Are we clear on what is bothering China and what is provoking China?” Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program at the German Martial Fund in the United States, told the paper. “The answer is no, and this is a dangerous area.”
According to the NYT, former President Donald Trump’s administration considered deploying U.S. troops to Taiwan, and the White House and Pentagon also offered to send a high-level military representative to the island. Both ideas were dropped because they were considered too provocative.
On Monday, President Joe Biden told reporters that the United States would deploy militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of an attack. Asked if the United States would support the island militarily, the president said yes, Washington has a commitment.
The statement drew an angry response from Beijing, which called on the United States not to underestimate the Chinese people’s resolve for sovereignty and territorial integrity. The White House rushed to tone down Biden’s statement that Taiwan’s policy had not changed, and Biden meant that Washington would continue to provide Taiwan with the weapons it needed to strengthen its defenses.
Taiwan has repeatedly accused China of violating its defense zone with planes and warships. Beijing regularly flexes its military muscles near the island, it is buzzing with big planes and sending military ships. China considers the island an integral part of its territory.
Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when remnants of the nationalist government fled the mainland after their defeat in the civil war, but did not formally declare independence from China. The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but enjoys close military cooperation with the island, an issue that has long been a thorn in the side of US-China relations.