Date: September 10, 2020
By: Tom Rogan, Commentary Writer
Taiwan is a democratic partner that the United States has pledged to support. That support takes on escalating importance as Taiwan faces a rapidly rising threat from Beijing. But the U.S. government must proceed cautiously as it frames how best to provide that support. Miscalculation carries great danger: undesired war and the corollary risk of American bodies at the bottom of the East China Sea.
Risk management, then, should be the rule of America’s evolving strategy here. But that’s not to say America should flee from risk. Indeed, the U.S. must be willing to entertain more fury from China to help secure Taiwan. That means boosting Taiwan’s ability to deter invasion, and supporting an alliance of nations in Taiwan’s support.
At a basic level, this means selling Taipei more weapons that give it added means of holding any Chinese invasion force at bay. More anti-ship missiles, in particular, but also improved radar and sonar sensor nets, redundant air defense networks, and strengthened air forces. The Trump administration’s decision to sell Taiwan F-16V fighter jets and Harpoon anti-ship missiles is a step in the right direction. But the administration could also encourage other high-end defense exporters such as Britain, France, and Germany to offer more of their better equipment to Taiwan. German submarines would be of particular value.
There is a balance to strike here. The U.S. should not sell Taiwan the highest-end weapons platforms, such as the F-22 and F-35 strike fighters, and the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, system. Such sales would risk Beijing’s intelligence apparatus learning how to better defeat those platforms. But even the announcement of such a sale would increase the likelihood of Beijing taking preemptive action to seize Taiwan before those systems could be fully deployed. [FULL STORY]