The South China Morning Post reported that a US official urged Taiwan on Monday to update its military and defense spending in case of Chinese invasion. Recently, Xi Jinping told China’s Central Command to “concentrate preparations for fighting a war.” Bad news for the small island.
David Helvey, the US principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs addressed a conference in Anapolis, Maryland on Monday, according to WeAreTheMighty. He stated that Taiwan “must have resources to modernize its military and provide the critical material, manning and training needed to deter, or if necessary defeat, a cross-strait invasion.”
Helvey also stated that China was attempting to “erode Taiwan’s diplomatic space in the international arena while increasing the frequency and scale of [The People’s Liberation Army] activity within and beyond the First Island Chain.” [The first island chain refers to the first chain of major archipelagos, including Taiwan and Japan, out from the East Asian continental mainland coast. South China Morning Post]
Up until now, Taiwan has received arms from the US about twice a year. For example, a $330 arms deal was just completed in September 2018. But we have no formal relations with the Island, and China has balked at us moving any closer to helping them. But the island has not been able to garner the more advance weaponry it seeks: i.e. F35s, or M1A2 Abrams tanks. Will the US increase those sales due to the threat from Beijing?
Secretary of Defense James Mattis is scheduled to meet with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe in Washington next week. That should be an interesting conversation. Wei has vowed to not concede a “single inch” of territory to Taiwan. The US may be asking Taiwan to “update their thinking” on defense spending, but it’s highly unlikely that Wei Fenghe will acquiesce to do so as a representative for the mainland. As far as Beijing is concerned, Taiwan belongs to them.
The massive Chinese buildup of military power hasn’t been lost on either Taipei or Washington. Will they invade Taiwan? It could happen. Stay tuned.
Featured photo: Taiwan’s capital city of Taipei