Taiwan’s Vice Minister for National Defense Hsu Yen-pu has urged the US to speed up the delivery of weapons Taiwan has already purchased and asked for other forms of military assistance.
Hsu made the comments on Monday at the annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, a closed-door event being held in Williamsburg, Virginia, from Sunday to Tuesday. According to the US-Taiwan Business Council, this year’s meeting marks the 22nd conference of its kind hosted in the US.
Taiwanese officials and China hawks in the US have complained about how long it takes for weapons Taiwan has purchased from the US to be delivered. There is supposedly a $19 billion “backlog” in arms sales for Taiwan going back to 2019, although major weapons sales typically take years to fulfill.
According to The South China Morning Post, Hsu said on the sidelines of the conference that because Taiwan is an island, it’s important for Taiwan to be able to quickly acquire US weapons in the face of Chinese military pressure, which has grown in response to Washington increasing military and diplomatic support for Taipei.
“Given the ongoing Russian-Ukraine war, Taiwan and the US have recognized the importance of speeding up the delivery of weapons systems to Taiwan to urgently beef up its defense capabilities,” Hsu said.
Hsu thanked President Biden for approving 11 weapons sales for Taiwan since coming into office in 2021 and for providing a $345 million weapons package in July using the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), which allows the US to ship weapons directly from Pentagon stockpiles.
The provision of PDA assistance was unprecedented in the era of normalized US-China relations. Since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 to open up with Beijing, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan but never financed the purchases or provided arms free of charge.
In August, the US announced it was providing Taiwan with an $80 million arms package using Foreign Military Financing (FMF), a State Department program that gives foreign governments money to buy US arms. The FMF support for Taiwan was also unprecedented, and the new types of US military assistance has infuriated Beijing.
Hsu also called for the US to help Taiwan establish a “Total Life Cycle Systems Management” for US arms, which refers to a way to maintain weapons systems. He said the mechanism would “enable more Taiwanese defense companies and contractors to produce and offer maintenance services for US-bought weapons systems.”