Commentary on Political Economy

Monday 27 May 2024

 

US Lawmakers Vow Arms Support for Taiwan After China’s Drills

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    US lawmakers expressed support for Taiwan’s defense in a trip to the self-ruled democracy just two days after China ended its biggest military exercise in a year around the island.

    “We have to provide that deterrence here,” said Representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a joint press briefing with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Lin Chia-lung on Monday. Lin called the trip an “important gesture of solidarity that shows America stands firmly with democratic Taiwan.”

    The bipartisan delegation were the first US lawmakers to meet with Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te since his inauguration on May 20. It comes days after Beijing staged expansive military exercises around Taiwan in what the US called “military provocations.”

    Lai met the lawmakers in the morning and said Taiwan will continue to deepen cooperation with the US. He also cited former US President Ronald Reagan’s notion of “peace through strength” and pledged to bolster national defense.

    McCaul said he had “very direct conversations” with Lai about the threat Taiwan faces from China.

    “What they did in the last couple of days was essentially a preview of what a blockade would look like,” he told reporters. “The key is to make sure the island has the weapons necessary for deterrence.”

    He said he had put pressure on defense contractors and the Biden administration to get a backlog of weapons bought by Taiwan shipped as quickly as possible.

    Beijing has signaled its displeasure with Taipei’s new government in recent days, accusing Lai of seeking independence and destabilizing the region. The Chinese military’s latest drills were the biggest around the island since April last year.

    The trip is part of a broader visit by the delegation to the Indo-Pacific region, according to the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto US embassy in Taipei.

    Also in the group were Representative Young Kim, Republican of California; Representative Joe Wilson, Republican of South Carolina; Representative Jimmy Panetta, Democrat of California; Representative Andy Barr, Republican of Kentucky, and Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat of Pennsylvania.

    Nvidia boss Jensen Huang arrived separately in Taiwan on Sunday. He is expected to make public appearances in an upcoming tech expo in Taipei.

    Huang has frequently mentioned the critical role Taiwan plays in the global AI supply chain, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. makes the bulk of the world’s cutting-edge chips, including those designed by Nvidia.

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