US eyes joint arms production with Taiwan

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WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) – The U.S. government is considering a joint arms production plan with Taiwan, a business lobby said on Wednesday, a move to accelerate arms transfers to bolster Taipei’s deterrence against the China.

US presidents have approved more than $20 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2017 as China ramped up military pressure on the democratically-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own territory.

But Taiwan and the US Congress have warned of delays in deliveries due to supply chain difficulties and backlogs caused by increased demand for some systems due to the war in Ukraine.

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“It’s just early in the process,” Rupert Hammond-Chambers, chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council, which has many US defense contractors among its members, said of the plan.

Hammond-Chambers said it was yet to be determined which weapons would be considered part of the effort, though he would likely focus on supplying Taiwan with more ammunition and long-established missile technology. .

But he warned that any such move would require arms makers to obtain co-production licenses from the State and Defense Departments. Hammond-Chambers added that there may be resistance within the US government to issuing co-production licenses due to unease about approving critical technology for a foreign platform.

“It’s a piece of the puzzle, not a game changer,” Hammond-Chambers told Reuters after Japan’s Nikkei newspaper first reported on the plan, citing three unidentified sources.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry declined to comment, but reaffirmed that relations between Taiwan and the United States are both “close and friendly”.

Possibilities would include the United States supplying technology to produce weapons in Taiwan, or producing the weapons in the United States using Taiwanese parts, the Nikkei report added.

Asked about the effort, a US State Department spokesperson said, “The United States is considering all options to ensure the rapid transfer of defensive capabilities to Taiwan.”

“The United States’ rapid supply of defensive and support arms to Taiwan through Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales is critical to Taiwan’s security and we will continue to work with industry to support this goal,” said the spokesperson.

News of the plan came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a Stanford University forum on Monday that “Beijing is determined to pursue reunification (with Taiwan) in a much faster time frame.” , although he did not specify a date.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Sunday that China would never give up the right to use force on Taiwan, but would strive to reach a peaceful resolution.

Taiwan’s presidential office said this week that Taiwan would not renounce its sovereignty or compromise on freedom and democracy, but that reuniting on the battlefield was not an option.

US officials have pushed Taiwan to modernize its military so that it can become a “porcupine”, which is difficult for China to attack.

US officials have criticized Beijing for using a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August as a pretext to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait by stepping up military exercises nearby.

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Reporting by Michael Martina, David Brunnstrom, Elaine Lies and Daniel Leussink; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Bernadette Baum, Josie Kao and Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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