Bolstering Taiwan’s Defense Is ‘Urgent Task,’ U.S. Official Says
(Bloomberg) -- A top American defense official said strengthening Taiwan’s ability to defend itself is an “urgent task” for the U.S. as China engages in destabilizing and “intentionally provocative” actions toward the self-governing island.
Taiwan should work to defend itself using “credible, resilient, mobile, distributed and cost-effective” asymmetric capabilities, Assistant Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
Ratner was joined by Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Kritenbrink at a hearing where senators from both parties pressed for a hard line against what they consider China’s increasingly aggressive stance toward Taiwan under President Xi Jinping.
“This is not a partisan matter, this is a matter that’s important to all of us,” Republican Senator James Risch of Idaho said.
Kritenbrink said that the U.S. should also help Taiwan resist economic coercion from China and expand the island’s diplomatic space. Asked how Beijing seeks to influence the island, Kritenbrink said that China’s approach includes “activities inside Taiwan,” declining to offer additional details.
The hearing comes as Biden administration officials have grown increasingly concerned about Beijing’s intentions toward Taiwan, which China views as part of its territory. China’s military has used missile tests, fighter jet incursions and naval patrols to put political pressure on Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Ratner and Kritenbrink defended the historic U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, which is deliberately vague about whether the American military would come to Taiwan’s defense in case of attack. Ratner said that a shift to a more defined policy would “not meaningfully strengthen deterrence.”
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