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  • Writer's pictureWei Azim Hung

Fast-Tracking Weapon Deliveries to Taiwan

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Key takeaways:

  • The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passes the Taiwan Assurance Implementation Act

  • Requires that the U.S. State Department periodically conduct reviews of its guidelines for engagement with Taiwan

  • Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) lambasts French President Emmanuel Macron over Taiwan comments.

  • Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reaffirms strong Taiwan-U.S. bond after historic meeting in California

  • U.S. "absolutely needs" to expedite arms deliveries to Taiwan, says Representative Michael McCaul Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee


Recent urgency over Taiwan Strait is highlighted by the backlog of U.S. defense articles worth $21 billion amidst Chinese military drills simulating attacks on Taiwan. Washington has been actively reviewing arms deliveries to Taiwan and expediting weapons delivery to enhance Taiwan's defense capabilities. Representative McCaul has stated that the U.S. "absolutely needs" to expedite arms deliveries to Taiwan, and other senior lawmakers have echoed similar sentiments.

Presidential Drawdown Authority and Congressional Funding for Taiwan's Defense

The U.S. Department of State has verified that the Biden Administration is actively working to accelerate the delivery of weapons to Taiwan to strengthen its ability to defend itself. The administration is considering using presidential drawdown authority, similar to what was used to transfer equipment to Ukraine, to immediately transfer material to Taiwan from existing U.S. military stockpiles. This could partially alleviate the backlog in arms sales for Taiwan, which has been impacted by production constraints in the U.S. industrial base and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision follows a high-profile meeting between Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, where they reaffirmed strong Taiwan-U.S. bond and discussed the prospect of accelerating arms deliveries to Taiwan, as well as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's efforts to address obstacles in the foreign military sales (FMS) process. Defense Secretary Austin has assembled a "Tiger team" to identify and resolve delays in the delivery of essential military equipment. The Defense Department aims to take advantage of recent authorities granted by Congress to transfer arms to Taiwan, but funding allocation by congressional appropriators is needed to initiate Taiwan military aid authorities.

The backlog of U.S. defense articles worth $21 billion earmarked for Taiwan has been a concern for Taipei and Washington. After the Tsai-McCarthy meeting, a bipartisan congressional delegation headed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul landed in Taipei and re-emphasized the need to expedite weapons deliveries to Taiwan.

McCaul has suggested two options to clear the backlog of weapons yet to be delivered: re-prioritizing the delivery of weapons to Taiwan through U.S. Congress or advocating for "third-party sales" by persuading other countries to provide the weapons that Taiwan needs. McCaul stressed that projecting strength is crucial for maintaining peace and deterring aggression from China, and that an invasion or blockade of Taiwan by China would come at a high cost militarily and economically for the world.

Divergent European Views on Taiwan? Macron's Statements and Criticisms from China Hawks

In response to the Tsai-McCarthy meeting, China carried out military exercise simulating war over Taiwan. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron was heavily criticized for suggesting that Europe should take an independent stance on Taiwan, which was met with disagreement from China hawks who argued that he does not speak for all of Europe. This reflects the divergent views within Europe regarding China and Taiwan, with some advocating for a more assertive approach towards China's aggressive stance towards Taiwan, while others prefer a more cautious approach to avoid provoking China.

Several Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Todd Young, Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Michael McCaul, criticized French President Emmanuel Macron's recent statements regarding China, calling them embarrassing, disgraceful, and geopolitically naïve. They emphasized that the Chinese Communist Party poses a significant challenge to Western society, economic security, and global balance of power, particularly in relation to Taiwan. Rep. Chris Smith even called for a re-evaluation of the U.S.-French relationship, suggesting that if France is abandoning democratic nations in favor of China, the United States should reassess its posture toward France.


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