Around 25 US defense contractors plan to send representatives to Taiwan next month, marking the first time the arms industry will send a delegation to the island since 2019, Nikkei Asia reported on Tuesday.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US Taiwan Business Council, said the delegation will look to boost cooperation with Taiwan’s industry and wants to explore jointly producing weapons. The arms that Taipei is interested in producing include drones and ammunition.
The planned arms industry trip to Taiwan comes as the US is looking to ramp up arms sales and general military cooperation with Taiwan, which will further exacerbate tensions with Beijing.
The delegation plans to meet with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who recently provoked major Chinese military drills by meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
When asked about the prospect of US companies jointly producing arms with Taiwan, a Biden administration official expressed support for the idea. “From a very high-level perspective, we think that co-production arrangements make sense, but we need to take a look at them on a case-by-case basis, and it has to be at the request of US industry,” the official told Nikkei.
Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979, the US has always sold weapons to Taiwan. But the US is now looking to expand support by providing billions in military aid included in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Some of the Taiwan aid has hit a snag with the appropriations committees, but the Pentagon has said it plans to use the $1 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority to start arming Taiwan. The authority is what President Biden has been using to arm Ukraine by sending weapons directly from US military stockpiles.