Taiwan is concerned about delays in the delivery of weapons by Washington, US Representative Mike Gallagher told US media following a visit to Taiwan.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Jeff Liu (劉永健) yesterday said Gallagher met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and National Security Council Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄) during his visit from Friday last week to Monday.
Gallagher chairs the US House of Representatives Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.
Presidential Office spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka confirmed Tsai’s meeting with Gallagher, adding that Taiwan welcomes visits by international friends, and hopes to work with them to safeguard democracy, freedom and peace.
In an interview with the Washington Post published on Wednesday, Gallagher said every Taiwanese official he met said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made Taiwan realize the need to acquire and stockpile advanced weapons.
Taiwanese leaders are concerned about delays in arms deliveries from the US, he said.
“I think that’s unacceptable,” Gallagher said.
Taiwan faces a US$19 billion arms backlog, including crucial weapons such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles and F-16 jets, the Post reported, quoting one congressional aide as saying that Harpoons “aren’t likely to begin arriving in real numbers until 2027 at the earliest.”
Gallagher said he hopes the committee can help push the US to “arm Taiwan to the teeth,” as it is “our best chance of preventing an invasion of Taiwan, and of essentially preventing World War III.”
Taiwan is “doing everything we could ask of them” to boost its own defense, such as increasing defense spending to 2.4 percent of its GDP, he said.
Gallagher reiterated similar views in an opinion piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, saying the US “must do a better job of countering the [Chinese] Communist Party’s malign influence operations in Taiwan,” including clearing the backlog of military sales.
“Repression is spreading outward all around the periphery of China — Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong. The darkness presses beyond China’s borders, slithering into multinational institutions, over the Internet, throughout the global financial system. Against the darkness stands a candle that burns freely, fiercely, improbably in opposition: Taiwan,” he added.
Speaking about US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s plan to visit Taipei, Gallagher said he was not aware of any active plans for the trip, but added: “If he wants to go, he certainly can.”
Gallagher said he plans to hold a select committee hearing in Taiwan by summer and report the findings to McCarthy, who can then make his plans with better information.
Gallagher and US House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries might visit Taiwan after the presidential election early next year, he added.
The foreign ministry has not received information about a possible hearing or McCarthy’s visit to Taiwan, but welcomes visits by US lawmakers, Liu said, adding that the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US would keep in close contact with the US Congress about related plans.
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