Taiwan, US struggle over differences on weapons to counter China – Roll Call

“We’re not prepared enough. We’re good at boasting how prepared we are, but we’re actually not really. For the Ukrainians, we can’t compare to their patriotism and their willingness to protect their country, ” said Chang, who was the deputy commander of the Air Force before he retired two years ago. “The government’s misleading Washington, ”  he said, referring to the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “We’re definitely not ready, especially in terms associated with military morale. ”

These differences of views both inside Taipei and inside Washington, as well as between the two governments, are set to get a fuller hearing as lawmakers debate in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday potentially landmark bipartisan legislation that would direct the executive branch to enhance its diplomatic relations plus defense cooperation with Taiwan.

Tsai has worked to capitalize on the growing Western attention that Russia’s war against Ukraine has shed on Taiwan’s own strategic vulnerability vis-à-vis China. With U. S. lawmaker visits to Taiwan this year already at a decade-high point, according to figures tabulated by Bloomberg, Taipei has been pressing its case for more defense assistance.

The argument from Taiwanese officials essentially boils down to this: Just as the Ukrainians were able to use the roughly eight years of U. S. weapon donations and military trainings to fend off the Russian military onslaught, so , too, can the particular Taiwanese armed forces defend themselves against a much larger Chinese invading force. But  only if they are given the tools they need and in an expedited fashion.

The Senate legislation through Sens. Bob Menendez , D-N. J., and Lindsey Graham , R-S. C., is largely supportive of that argument. The bill would for the first time authorize the donation associated with U. S. weapons, $4. 5 billion worth, in order to Taiwan. It would also modify the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to clarify that Taiwan is allowed to acquire “arms conducive to deterring acts of aggression” rather than just the more generalized weapons “of a defensive character” already permitted. Equally notable, the bill would direct the Pentagon to establish a “comprehensive” training program for Taiwan’s military with a focus on “interoperability” with Circumstance. S. forces, including through full-scale military exercises.

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