2023-0413: U.S. Defense Contractors to Visit Taiwan; “We Will Deliver Those Weapons,” Rep. McCaul Promises; Chinese Drills Around Taiwan

U.S. Defense Contractors to Visit Taiwan to Discuss Weapons Stockpiling and Co-Production: Experts

A reported visit by a group of U.S. defense contractors to Taiwan in May would involve discussions of the stockpiling of weapons needed for Taiwan to hold out in case of a Chinese attack or blockade, as well as the possibility to co-produce U.S. weapons in Taiwan, experts said.

Around 25 U.S. defense contractors plan to send representatives to Taiwan in early May to discuss joint production of drones and ammunition, a Nikkei report published on April 11, citing U.S. Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers as saying.

The delegation to be led by Steven Rudder, retired commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, would become the first large group of U.S. defense industry envoys to visit Taiwan since 2019, according to Nikkei.

The delegation is meant “to promote [U.S.] defense industry cooperation with Taiwan,” Hammond-Chambers said, adding that the Taiwanese side is particularly interested in drones (airborne, surface, and subsea) as well as ammunition.

Drones can be used for both surveillance and armed attacks and are considered critical in deterring a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. They are relatively cheap and can easily be deployed on a large scale.

The critical ammunition shortage Ukraine’s armed forces encountered in defending the country against Russia’s invasion is a lesson that should be learned by Taiwan and its allies, Shen Ming-shih, a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), told CNA.

Given the possibility that China might carry out a blockade of Taiwan to choke off its supplies of ammunition, it would be “imperative” that the U.S. co-produce weapons with Taiwan on the island, in addition to storing ammunition in the Philippines and Japan, to enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capability and allow it to hold out before the U.S. comes to its assistance, Shen said.

According to Nikkei, Washington is open to the idea of co-producing U.S. weapons with its allies “largely because American defense contractors are already struggling to keep up with obligations at home and abroad.” The U.S. still needs to deliver around $19 billion in promised arms to Taiwan. U.S. companies began boosting domestic production capacity following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but it will take time before these additions come online.

[1] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Taiwan-tensions/U.S.-defense-industry-plans-first-Taiwan-trip-in-four-years
[2] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202304120023
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/04/07/2003797465

“We Will Deliver Those Weapons” to Taiwan, Visiting U.S. Rep. McCaul Promises

On April 8, visiting U.S. Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX) promised that lawmakers in Washington would work hard to clear a backlog of weapons the U.S. has yet to deliver to Taiwan.

“As the [U.S.] House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, I sign off on all foreign military sales, including weapons to Taiwan. And I promise you, Madam President, we will deliver those weapons,” McCaul said at a luncheon hosted by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei.

McCaul was likely referring to the reports that the U.S. had run up a backlog of approximately US$19 billion worth of defense articles it had agreed to sell Taiwan as of December 2022.

“We are doing everything we can in [U.S.] Congress to speed up these sales and get you the weapons that you need to defend yourself,” McCaul said, adding that “we will provide training to your military, not for war, but for peace.”

McCaul, who led the visiting delegation, said they came to Taiwan to show their “strong support of this beautiful island” and that “[it] is important that all democracies stand together against tyranny and oppression.”

“Projecting weakness only invites aggression and conflict. Projecting strength provides deterrence and promotes peace,” he emphasized. 

Meanwhile, President Tsai thanked the U.S. Congress for long being “a key force” in promoting U.S.-Taiwan relations, while stressing that Taiwan “will continue to work with the U.S. and other like-minded countries to jointly defend the values of freedom and democracy.”

“The people of Taiwan love democracy, seek peace, and are keen to fulfill their responsibilities in the international community,” Tsai added.

Tsai made the comments, hours after China announced three days of military exercises around Taiwan.

McCaul arrived in Taiwan on April 6 for a three-day visit. The eight-member delegation also includes U.S. Representatives Young Kim (R-CA), Ami Bera (D-CA), French Hill (R-AR), Michael Lawler (R-NY), Nathaniel Moran (R-TX), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA).

The delegation had met with Taiwan’s Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Yuan Speaker You Si-kun, as well as executives of Taiwanese semiconductors and defense companies over the past few days.

McCaul also urged the U.S. to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Taiwan and eliminate double taxation to encourage Taiwanese businesses to invest in the U.S., calling it a topic of great concern during his meetings with representatives of Taiwanese industries.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202304080008
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/04/09/2003797581
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/04/08/2003797529

Record-Breaking 91 Chinese Warplanes Detected Around Taiwan in 12 Hours

On April 10, a record-breaking 91 Chinese military aircraft and 12 naval ships were detected around Taiwan in 12 hours, with 54 warplanes crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), a total of 91 Chinese military aircraft were detected in areas close to Taiwan from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m on April 10, including Sukhoi SU-30s, Chengdu J-10s, Shenyang J-11s, J-15 and J-16 fighter jets, H-6 bombers, Y-20 aerial refueling tankers, Y-8 warfare planes, Y-9 aircraft, as well as KJ-200 and KJ-500 planes.

Of the 91 Chinese warplanes, 54 crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, an unofficial boundary between the two sides, and entered the southwestern and southeastern parts of Taiwan’s ADIZ, including an unspecified number of Shenyang J-15 fighter jets that took off from the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan on April 8, one day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a 10-day overseas trip that included a meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in California.

The PLA announced shortly after 6 p.m. on April 10 that it had “successfully completed” the drills in the Taiwan Strait and “comprehensively tested” the capabilities of multiple units.

These drills and incursions are part of China’s campaign to pressure Taiwan. Communist China has never ruled Taiwan ― a democratic country of 23.5 million people ― but claims it as its own territory.

Taiwan’s MND said it remains vigilant and will continue to closely monitor the movements of the Chinese vessels and aircraft despite the end of the drills.

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/cross-strait/202304100019
[2] Nikkei Asia: https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Taiwan-tensions/China-sends-daily-record-number-of-jets-near-Taiwan