A potential stockpile of munitions the US wants to establish in Taiwan has sparked controversy and concern within the ruling and opposition camps.
Earlier this month, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) confirmed speculation that the US is discussing the creation of such an arms reserve as a contingency for critical situations, not just in the Taiwan Strait, but around the western Pacific region.
Some opposition legislators have opposed the proposal, saying it could turn Taiwan into “East Asia’s ammunition room” and could speed the increase of tensions in the Taiwan Strait, compromising the nation’s safety and pushing Taiwan to the front line of war.
Such opposition is not only unconvincing, but also groundless and misleading.
The administration of US President Joe Biden is pushing to stockpile arms in Taiwan based on a professional security assessment.
Apart from the strategic function of hosting an arms supply in the event of a cross-strait war, such a move would deter the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) military aggression against Taiwan.
By extension, the maneuver would add some measure of security to the Indo-Pacific region.
Washington stores weapons and munitions on the territories of other Asian military allies on the advice of a security assessment — the US, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines — where US troops are stationed.
Although the US and Taiwan are not officially military allies, and US troops are not stationed in the country, the US Congress this year regardless passed a provision in the US National Defense Authorization Act for its military to store a cache of weapons in Taiwan.
The authorization is of great importance, showing that the Taiwan-US military relationship is moving toward a new milestone. Specifically, it shows that if the CCP invades or blockades Taiwan, the US could have difficulty transporting military supplies to Taiwan in a timely manner. Stockpiling munitions in advance of an attack would seemsto be a necessary precautionary measure.
The US has been stockpiling weapons around Asia according to its overall strategic considerations. The arms are not limited to local use, as they could be sent to nearby countries in times of conflict. Crucially, weapons stockpiled in Japan, South Korea or the Philippines could support Taiwan if a cross-strait war were to occur.
Similarly, a war in the Korean Peninsula could benefit from munitions stored in Taiwan. If the US engages in war with North Korea, allies such as South Korea and Japan might participate in the effort against a common enemy. Taiwan’s alliance with the US and the local arms cache would bolster security in Northeast Asia.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, the Taiwan Strait and the Korean Peninsula have been identified and watched as places where a similar conflict might occur.
Whether the CCP invades Taiwan is an issue of concern to the US and its democratic allies, because the nation’s strategic position is crucial to global security interests.
Based on these factors, the US security assessment of Taiwan concluded that a stockpile of munitions in Taiwan is an urgent priority for contingency purposes. This pragmatic approach is likely to deter CCP ambitions around Taiwan, and effectively respond to potential emergencies in the strait.
Yao Chung-yuan is a professor and former deputy director of the Ministry of National Defense’s strategic planning department.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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