National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said on Friday that Taiwan needs to build up its military defenses to protect itself from a possible Chinese invasion.
“I think Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area denial strategies,” O’Brien told the Aspen Security Forum. “And really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a gray zone operation against them.”
O’Brien described a “gray zone” operation as a non-military action China could take against Taiwan, like an embargo. The national security advisor made similar comments last week and warned China about the difficulties of an amphibious landing, which would be necessary for Beijing to take the island. O’Brien also urged Taiwan to spend more on its military.
Reports this week said the White House notified Congress of the sale of five different weapons packages to Taipei. Since the US cut diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979, it has continued to arm the island to discourage China from invading.
The sales are lucrative for US weapons makers, and Taiwan is a leading customer. In the 2019 fiscal year, Taiwan requested more weapons from the US than any other country.
The Trump administration has taken steps to increase ties with Taiwan in other ways. The president signed a bill into law in 2018 that paved the way for the highest-level US visits to the island in decades.
The US and Taiwan recently announced a partnership on infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific and Latin America. The project is seen as an effort to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.