Taiwan must show its determination to defend itself and adjust its strategy if it is to join a US response to China, global affairs experts said on Saturday in comments about a “deterrence” bill proposed in the US Senate earlier this month.
A group of Republican senators on Nov. 4 proposed the “Taiwan deterrence act,” which would provide US$2 billion annually and other assistance to Taiwan through 2032.
The grants and loans would come with conditions, such as a spending commitment, joint long-term planning for capacity development and an annual assessment of Taiwan’s defense strategy.
On the US side, an amendment to the Arms Export Control Act would make it easier for US firms to sell weapons to Taiwan.
The bill aims to “emulate the US’ approach to Israel” by financing military procurements, said Wong Ming-hsien (翁明賢), director of Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.
With China developing more advanced armaments, the senators hope to make up for deficiencies in the weapons sales provision of the Taiwan Relations Act, he said.
In August, China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the globe and briefly entered orbit before striking about 40km from its target. The test sounded alarms in US intelligence and lawmaking circles.
The bill, along with other US legislation, shows that Taiwan must demonstrate its resolve to defend itself, such as through the formation of a defense mobilization agency next year, Wong said.
The bill could address weaknesses in the nation’s defense, Institute for National Defense and Security Research assistant research fellow Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) said.
This would include responses to stealth aircraft, electronic warfare, drones and other threats, he said.
As differences in US defense systems might make them incompatible with Taiwan’s, collaboration with the US would also require joint research similar to the exchanges that resulted in Israel’s Iron Dome mobile air defense system, he said.
The increased budget could allow more personnel to be trained in the US, similar to the F-16 pilot training program at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, he added.
The nation’s armed forces have not engaged in warfare for a long time, Shu said.
If a conflict erupts outside the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan must work with US forces to enhance their interoperability, he added.
The deterrrence act is not the only Taiwan-related bill introduced in the US Congress this past year.
In September, the US House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which among other provisions recommends inviting Taiwan to next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
It also calls for enhanced cooperation with the US National Guard, echoing the “Taiwan partnership act” proposed in the US Senate in July.
As the acts specifically reference Taiwan’s reserve forces, it points to a US belief that they could delay a triple-pronged attack by China, Wong said.
Shu added that that defense mobilization and reserve forces could be sent to the US for training exchanges.
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