A US business group issued a statement on Thursday questioning US President Joe Biden’s weapons sales policy for Taiwan, in response to the recent announcement of a fourth Taipei-bound defense package approved by the administration containing naval spare and repair parts.
“There appears to now be little to no US support for substantial Taiwan force modernization efforts,” US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said in the statement.
The Biden administration had undertaken “the most significant narrowing of US-Taiwan security assistance” since the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act was passed, Hammond-Chambers said, adding: “We should expect to see mostly sustainment and munitions programs” in terms of defense sales to Taiwan through the remainder of Biden’s term in office.
Photo: Tyrone Siu, Reuters
“One significant impact this approach will have is to constrain force modernization for entire areas of Taiwan’s military capability,” said the council, which includes defense contractors among its members.
The council was responding to the latest announcement of a possible defense package to Taiwan of naval spare and repair parts at an estimated cost of US$120 million, the fourth since Biden took office in January last year.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Wednesday announced that it has notified the US Congress of the proposed sale, which includes unclassified spare and repair parts for ships and ship systems, logistical technical assistance and other elements to sustain Taiwan’s surface-vessel fleet.
The US-Taiwan Business Council said it welcomes the announcement and acknowledges the need to sustain Taiwan’s military.
However, the council said that Taiwan’s military is likely to see a “loss of infrastructure, hollowing out of operational experience and the loss of decades of expertise” as a result of the Biden administration’s approach.
Last month, the council said that the Biden administration’s new defense sale policy to Taiwan — which focuses more on investing in Taiwan’s “asymmetric capabilities” — would undermine Taiwan’s defense capability.
The administration approved its first weapons sale to Taiwan in August last year — a US$750 million deal for 40 Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers.
This was followed by a US$100 million package in February that included equipment and services to support participation in a Patriot missile program.
The third, in April, was a US$95 million package of equipment and services to maintain Taiwan’s Patriot system.
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