Taiwan and the United States fight over differences on weapons to counter China

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“We are not prepared enough. We’re good at bragging about our preparation, but that’s not the case. For Ukrainians, we cannot compare their patriotism and their will to protect their country,” said Chang, who was deputy commander of the air force before retiring two years ago. “The government is misleading Washington,” he said, referring to the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. “We are certainly not ready, especially in terms of military morale.”

These differences of opinion both in Taipei and Washington, as well as between the two governments, should be heard in more detail as lawmakers debate in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday potentially landmark bipartisan legislation that would order the executive to improve its diplomatic relations and defense cooperation with Taiwan.

Tsai has worked to capitalize on the growing Western attention that Russia’s war on Ukraine has cast on Taiwan’s own strategic vulnerability to China. With visits by U.S. lawmakers to Taiwan this year already at a decade high, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg, Taipei has been pushing for more defense aid.

The Taiwanese officials’ argument basically boils down to this: just as the Ukrainians were able to use the nearly eight years of American arms donations and military training to repel the Russian military assault, the Taiwanese armed forces can also defend themselves. against a much larger Chinese invasion force. But only if they get the tools they need, and in an expedited way.

Legislation of the Senate of Sens. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and Lindsey Graham, RS.C., largely supports this argument. The bill would for the first time authorize the donation of US weapons – worth $4.5 billion – to Taiwan. It would also amend the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 to clarify that Taiwan is permitted to acquire “weapons conducive to the deterrence of acts of aggression” rather than just the more general “defensive” weapons already permitted. Equally noteworthy, the bill would direct the Pentagon to establish a ‘comprehensive’ training program for the Taiwanese military with an emphasis on ‘interoperability’ with US forces, including through military exercises. in large scale.

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