The nominee for US Pacific Command commander has expressed his firm support for the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which obliges Washington to help Taipei defend itself.
Samuel Locklear said the law, which guides the unofficial relations between the US and Taiwan, plays a valuable and important role in the US’ approach to the Asia-Pacific region.
“As called for in the TRA, our long-standing policy to assist Taiwan with maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability helps ensure security and stability in the region,” Locklear said. “I would not recommend any changes to the law.”
Locklear was testifying at a confirmation hearing held by the US Senate Committee on Armed Services on Thursday, during which he was asked if he saw any need to modify the TRA, which was enacted in 1979.
On Taiwan’s request to acquire new F-16C/D fighters, Locklear said the recently announced F-16A/B upgrades gave them a similar capability to F-16C/Ds. He added that if his appointment was confirmed, he would continue to evaluate Taiwan’s defense needs in coordination with the US Department of Defense.
He said the US needed to maintain military-to-military engagement with Taiwan and assist Taiwan with joint operations capabilities and training, streamlining and integrating its existing defense programs to be more effective and seeking innovative solutions to complement its traditional military capabilities.
For its part, Taiwan must ensure that it adequately funds its defense programs and transformation of its defense, which means increasing its defense budget, he said.
“I believe the best way to encourage Taiwan to invest more in its military is to send strong and consistent messages from the US government to Taiwan,” he said.