Make smart investments amid China threat: U.S. official to Taiwan
Washington, Oct. 6 (CNA) A senior Pentagon official on Tuesday called on Taiwan to invest in cost-effective systems to achieve a multiple deterrent capability in light of the growing military threat from China.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, David F. Helvey, acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, noted the frequent incursions made by Chinese military aircraft into airspace near Taiwan.
These maneuvers by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) are not only testing Taiwan's ability to respond to coercion, they are also part of a broader challenge to security across the Indo-Pacific region, Helvey said at the forum.
Though the PLA's actions are real and dangerous, "the PLA is not unbeatable," the official said.
"Taiwan can, through smart investments, send a clear signal to Beijing that Taiwan's society and its armed forces are absolutely committed to the defense of Taiwan," he said.
The defense official said Washington continues to encourage Taipei to field "credible, resilient, mobile, distributed and cost-effective capabilities" to achieve a multi-domain deterrent.
"In particular, we encourage Taiwan to invest in what I like to call 'large numbers of small capabilities'-capabilities that can signal to an adversary that an invasion or an attack would not come without a significant cost," he said.
Examples of such "small dollar investments" include coastal defense cruise missiles, short-range air defense, defensive naval mines, small fast-attack craft, mobile artillery, and advanced surveillance assets, according to Helvey.
The Pentagon official also urged Taiwan to continue to seek a balance of investments across its defense portfolio, including funding both indigenous development and foreign acquisitions to support an effective and constant military deterrent.
He also suggested that Taiwan strengthen its reserve forces to ensure that those brigades that are charged with supporting active troops in a crisis are able to do so when needed.
Aside from bilateral military collaboration, Helvey said the U.S. and Taiwan should work together on supply chains, especially those involving companies that provide chips and other technologies that are important parts of a nation's defense capability.
He praised the decision made earlier this year by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, to build a wafer plant in Arizona as a "game changer," "not just for the semiconductor industry, but also for U.S. national security."
The footprint of Taiwan's leading semiconductor firm in the U.S. provides an opportunity for the U.S. and Taiwan to collaborate on intellectual property protection, "ensuring that the chips, like our militaries, are defendable against all potential threats," he said.
The 19th U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, which opened Monday, was held over two days in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The annual conference, which was launched in 2002, is usually held in September or October in the U.S. to facilitate dialogue between the two countries on Taiwan's national security needs, weapons procurement and military cooperation with the U.S.
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