The top American general stated on Friday that the United States and its allies must expedite the shipment of weaponry to Taiwan in the upcoming years to aid the island in self-defense.
The main source of armaments for Taiwan is the United States. Beijing has frequently sought an end to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, perceiving them as unjustified backing for the island’s democratically run government.
“The speed at which we, the United States, or other countries assist Taiwan in improving (their) defensive capabilities, I think that probably needs to be accelerated in the years to come,” U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a visit to Tokyo.
Milley said Taiwan needed weapons like air defence systems and those that could target ships from land.
“I think it’s important that Taiwan’s military and their defensive capabilities be improved,” he said.
Taiwan has since last year complained of delays to U.S. weapon deliveries, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as manufacturers turned supplies to Ukraine as it battles invading Russian forces. The issue has concerned some U.S. lawmakers.
Taiwan has said that its defence spending this year will focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a “total blockade” by China, including parts for F-16 fighters and replenishing weapons.
China staged war games around the island in August, firing missiles over Taipei and declaring no-fly and no-sail zones in a simulation of how it would seek to cut Taiwan off in a war.
In recent days, China’s military has been practicing joint force operations at sea ahead of Taiwan’s annual war games at the end of the month when it will simulate breaking a Chinese blockade.
Milley said that relations between the United States and China were at a “very low point” and recent diplomatic meetings, including between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi, were important to reduce the chances of escalation.
Milley said the United States was looking at whether it needed to change where some U.S. forces were based within the Asia Pacific.
The majority of U.S. forces in the region are in northeast Asia, including 28,500 in South Korea and 56,000 troops in Japan.
“We are seriously looking at potential alternative basing options,” Milley said.