2023-0309: McCarthy Confirms California Meeting with Taiwan’s President; U.S. Missile Sale to Taiwan

House Speaker McCarthy Confirms Meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai in California

On March 7, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy confirmed plans to meet with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in the U.S. this year, adding that the meeting doesn’t preclude a trip to Taiwan later.

On March 6, the Financial Times first reported House Speaker McCarthy’s plans to meet with President Tsai in California rather than Taipei.

“That has nothing to do with my travel, if I would go to Taiwan,” McCarthy told reporters on March 7 while confirming the meeting.

“China can’t tell me where and when I can go,” McCarthy said.

Last month, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul said McCarthy would plan a trip to Taiwan either later this year or next year.

However, such a visit was seen by China as setting up a potential confrontation similar to the one in August last year, when then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan.

McCarthy has said he would like to travel to Taiwan as speaker and bring a bipartisan group of lawmakers.

However, the Chinese government has urged McCarthy not to visit Taiwan and to “earnestly abide by” the “One China Principle.”

On March 7, the White House spokesman John Kirby rebutted Chinese criticism of the U.S.’ approach to Taiwan, saying that its “One China Policy” had not changed and that the U.S. was opposed to any unilateral or forcible actions to change the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, on March 8, when asked about McCarthy’s planned meeting with President Tsai in California, the U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said that transits of the United States by high-level Taiwan officials are “nothing new” and consistent with the U.S.’ “unofficial and strong relations with Taiwan.”

“President Tsai herself has transited the United States six times in the last seven years,” Price said. “That is nothing new. It is not something that would break any new ground. It is entirely consistent with the status quo.”

Price added that House Speaker McCarthy himself has the right to decide whom he wants to meet with.

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/03/09/2003795771
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303090005

U.S. Missile Sale Highlights Growing Trust in Taiwan

The U.S.’ growing trust in Taiwan has been underlined by its announcement on March 1 of an arms sale package to Taiwan, the ninth approved under President Joe Biden, including one of the most advanced missiles in active service on U.S. warplanes, a Taiwanese military expert said.

On March 1, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced a US$619 million arms sale package to Taiwan that includes, among others, 200 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM); 100 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM); 23 HARM training missiles; four AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM Guidance Sections; and 26 LAU-129 multi-purpose launchers.

If approved by the U.S. Congress, the package would mark the first time the U.S. has sold Taiwan the AIM-120C-8 missiles, which are also fielded on advanced U.S. fighter jets including the F/A-18, F-22 and F-35.

Su Tzu-yun, a research fellow at the Taiwan government-funded “Institute for National Defense and Security Research,” said the newly announced arms sale package has political significance in that the AIM-120C-8 is currently deployed on some of the U.S.’ most advanced warplanes.

This demonstrates the deepening bilateral ties between the two nations, and the trust the U.S. has in Taiwan, he said.

The AIM-120C-8 missiles — which feature a two-way data link and improved navigation using a GPS-enhanced inertial measurement unit — are also used by Japan’s air force to defend against Chinese and Russian warplanes.

Su said the AIM-120C-8 features a greatly increased range of 160km — about 1.5 times that of the previous version, AIM-120C-7.

In addition, its expanded no-escape envelope and high-angle off-boresight capability mean that enemy aircraft within firing range are less likely to escape, he said.

This capability, coupled with a helmet-mounted cueing system, means that pilots would no longer need a clear line of sight on a target, and would be able to fire a missile at an enemy aircraft flanking them just by looking over their shoulder, he added.

With the addition of the proposed 100 AGM-88B missiles, it would bolster the ability of Taiwan’s air force to target coastal radar stations, communications stations and marine radars, Su said.

Although identified in the DSCA announcement as simply AGM-88B, it is widely believed that the missiles being proposed for sale to Taiwan are upgraded units with an increased range of 180km.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202303020018
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/03/07/2003795641