© Reuters. A Taiwanese flag can be seen at Freedom Square in Taipei, Taiwan, July 28, 2022. REUTERS / Ann Wang
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government is considering a plan to co-produce arms with Taiwan, a business lobbyist said on Wednesday, an initiative aimed at speeding arms deliveries. to strengthen Taipei’s deterrence against China.
The US president has approved more than $20 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2017 as China ramped up military pressure on the democratic island that Beijing claims as its territory.
However, Taiwan and the US Congress have warned of delivery delays because of supply chain difficulties and backlogs due to increased demand for some systems due to the war in Ukraine.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, to which many US defense contractors are members, said the plan was right at the start of the process.
Hammond-Chambers said it has yet to determine what weapons will be considered part of the effort, although it will likely focus on providing Taiwan with more weapons and missile technology for a long time. life.
But he warned that any such move would require weapons manufacturers to obtain co-production permits from the Departments of Defense and State. Hammond-Chambers added that there could be resistance within the US government to issue co-production licenses due to discomfort about approving critical technology for a foreign platform.
“It’s part of the puzzle, not a game-changer,” Hammond-Chambers told Reuters after the newspaper first reported on the plan, citing three unidentified sources.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment, but reiterated that Taiwan-US relations are both “close and friendly”.
The Nikkei report added, the possibilities would include the United States providing weapons manufacturing technology in Taiwan or making weapons in the United States with Taiwanese parts.
Asked about the effort, a State Department spokesman said: “The United States is considering all options to ensure the expeditious transfer of defensive capabilities to Taiwan.”
“The rapid U.S. supply of defensive and sustaining weapons to Taiwan through the Foreign Paramilitary and Direct Commercial Sale is essential to Taiwan’s security, and we I will continue to work with industry to support that goal.”
News of the plans came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a forum at Stanford University on Monday that “Beijing is determined to pursue reunification (with Taiwan) on a timeline. much faster”, although he did not specify the date.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Sunday that China will never give up its right to use force against Taiwan, but will work for a peaceful resolution.
Taiwan’s presidential office said this week that Taiwan would not back down from its sovereignty and would not compromise on freedom and democracy, but meeting on the battlefield was not an option.
US officials have been pushing Taiwan to modernize its military so that it can become a “hedgehog” difficult to attack by China.
US officials have criticized Beijing for using US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August as a pretext to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by intensifying military exercises. proximity.