The Biden administration is pressing Taiwan to buy more US-made weapons that can be used to fight off a Chinese invasion and is discouraging Taipei from purchasing arms for more conventional warfare, The New York Times reported Monday.
The report cited US and Taiwanese officials who said the US wants Taiwan to purchase weapons for “asymmetric” warfare. The idea is to buy arms that are mobile, lethal, and difficult to target.
Most of Taiwan’s arms purchases have been in line with what Washington wants, but US officials have criticized Taipei’s plans to buy Abrams tanks and the Lockheed Martin-made MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
Last week, Taiwan signaled it abandoned its plan to purchase the MH-60Rs by saying they were too expensive, but the report suggests it might have been due to US pressure.
US officials want Taiwan to increase its purchases of coastal air-defense missiles, sea mines, and armed drones. The US is also encouraging Taipei to buy more Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which Washington has been shipping to Ukraine by the thousands.
Taiwan has been facing delays in US arms shipments, including delays in Stinger deliveries. Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the island had already paid for the Stinger delivery that had been stalled. The State Department claims the delay is not related to Ukraine, although since Russia invaded, the US has sent Kyiv more than 1,400 Stinger systems.
The US concern over Taiwan’s arms purchases comes as Washington is increasing its support for Taipei to counter China in the region. Starting under the Trump administration, the US began sending more high-level US officials to the island, breaking from diplomatic norms established in 1979, when Washington severed ties with Taipei and established formal ties with Beijing.