The US government is considering a plan to jointly produce weapons with Taiwan, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported yesterday, citing three sources. Washington wants to step up production capacity for US-designed arms and speed up their transfer as part of a move to bolster deterrence against China, Nikkei reported. The report added that a person with direct knowledge of the US government’s deliberations said discussions had begun, while a different source said it was likely to take some time. Possibilities would include the US providing technology to produce weapons in Taiwan, or producing the weapons in the US using Taiwanese parts, the Nikkei added.
This is a fascinating ‘leak’ – or purposeful ‘official leak’. Is this to test reactions? Meant to sabotage further collaboration between the US and Taiwan Republic? Are arms producers on both sides jockeying for position?
The main idea makes strategic and tactical sense. And like most things in this realm, should have been done decades ago. But wouldhave couldhave shouldhave. Strategic in this being a substantive signal to the Chinese communists that the US and its democratic allies are serious about their ‘red line’ re: not allowing a Chinese communist war of annexation against Taiwan. Tactically, there are lower-level or specific weapon systems – Javelins and Stingers, HIMARS and AMRAAMs and Harpoons – where the US annual requirement would not be able to sustain a supply line that can meet Taiwan’s more acute needs. We have already seen examples of this in the Russian invasion of Ukraine – the US having to deplete its own stockpile while scouring warehouses globally to meet a medium-level intensity conflict. A Chinese communist invasion of Taiwan would deplete munitions at a far higher rate.
This is also another example of a sign of a long-needed normalization between the US, its democratic allies, and Taiwan – i.e., “US technology” used in “Taiwan weapons” have been going on for decades, with rumors and hints but no official confirmations. Whereas this is one of many recent moves signaling that both sides have moved away from the decades-long unhealthy self-imposed restrictions to behave as two democratic nations ought to behave. To repeat a simple but critical idea, however, the reaction to the China Threat must be systemic – arms coproduction must be linked with joint training and US assistance with upper-level Taiwanese military and intelligence reforms; just as the resistance to the Chinese communist threat must include economic, trade, technology, educational, cultural, agricultural, and other realms. 20.10.2022
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