TAIPEI – Taiwan needs to earn U.S. military assistance and diplomatic support as it faces down a potential Chinese invasion or blockade. That was the message from Taiwanese Foreign Minister Jaushieh Joseph Wu during a briefing with international reporters at the Taiwan Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
“If we do not have the determination to fight for ourselves, we don’t have the right to ask other countries to fight for Taiwan, or to support Taiwan if there’s going to be a fight,” Wu said. “So this is the expression of our strong determination to defend ourselves.”
His remarks come as the U.S. is expected to announce $500 million in direct military assistance for Taiwan, using a presidential authority that provides an immediate transfer of weapons straight from U.S. stockpiles.
The package is aimed at delivering critical munitions as $19 billion in direct military sales are held up amid production challenges, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng reportedly told lawmakers on Monday.
It would mark the first time the Biden administration has used the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for weapons transfers to Taiwan, tapping into a Congressional authorization in the 2023 budget allocating $1 billion for Taiwan
Wu, in response to a question from The Hill, said China might use force against Taiwan if Beijing perceives Taipei as weak, and that the country is “engaging in very serious military reform, and we have also been making more military investment in our own defense needs.”
U.S. officials have warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping is gearing up to launch a military invasion of Taiwan as early as 2027. Beijing may also launch a blockade of the island in a bid to exert economic control.
The Biden administration, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, have said supporting Taiwan to fend off aggression by the People’s Republic of China is a core American interest – drawing parallels to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But lawmakers have also warned that Taiwan is ill prepared to fend off a military invasion or withstand a blockade.
Wu would not comment on the $500 million package, but said that Taiwan is “working with the U.S. administration to find creative ways for those weapons to be delivered.” And while he said Taiwan is carrying out military reforms – the government is working to expand conscription from four months to one year – he described the U.S. training of Taiwanese forces as “critical” for Taiwan’s self defense.