The US is stepping up its efforts to turn Taiwan into a major weapons depot, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
US officials have long called for turning Taiwan into a “porcupine” that could withstand a Chinese attack, but support for Taiwan has intensified in recent years as Washington has grown more confrontational toward Beijing.
The US wants Taiwan to focus its arms purchases on smaller, more mobile weapons, as opposed to larger systems. The Times report said that the US has been conveying this to Taiwanese officials and to the US arms industry.
The Biden administration recently approved a $1.1 billion arms sale for Taiwan that includes 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Senate leaders are working to push forward a piece of legislation that would give Taiwan $6.5 billion in military aid, known as the Taiwan Policy Act, which includes other unprecedented support for Taiwan.
The policy of arming Ukraine and Taiwan is a boon for the arms industry as the US and its NATO allies are taking steps to ramp up weapons production. The $6.5 billion for Taiwan that’s included in the Taiwan Policy Act would be in the form of Foreign Military Financing, a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to buy US weapons.
Taiwan has been under increasing Chinese military pressure since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited the island back in August. Her visit sparked China’s largest-ever military drill around the island, which included the simulation of a blockade.
The exercises led US officials to conclude that China would likely opt for a blockade rather than an invasion of Taiwan if it chose to take military action against the island. But increased US support for Taiwan will just escalate tensions in the region, making Chinese military action more likely.