US officials do not believe conflict with China is inevitable, according to evidence given by Dr Eli Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, in a testimony to the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday 19 September.
As part of a panel of high-ranking officials, Ratner explained the Department of Defence’s commitment to strengthening deterrence across the Taiwan Strait while maintaining the ‘One China’ policy.
“The US has been prioritising Taiwan’s defence capabilities with unprecedented speed and urgency,” said Mira Resnick, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security, at the same hearing.
In June 2022, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the state department had cleared the sale of $120m for the sustainment of Taiwan’s surface vessel fleet, to enhance its ability meet current and future threats, and in September the State Department approved a sale of anti-ship AGM-84l-1 Harpoon Block II missiles to support Taiwan in minting a credible defensive capability. This year, Taiwan was cleared to purchase the F-16 Infrared Search and Track System for an estimated cost of $500m.
Resnick went on to detail the US security cooperation, remarking that the US has expedited arms sales to Taiwan, authorising in 2022 the highest single year number of Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan in at least 30 years, and almost $6bn in arms sales to Taiwan during the Biden administration.
Resnick’s testimony also highlighted that the State Department had recently notified Congress of the first ever provision of Foreign Military Sale financing to Taiwan, with funding intended to prioritise Taiwan’s present day capability requirements, while supplementing its defence budget, one that has doubled in the past seven years, Resnick noted.
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At the centre of the testimony given on Tuesday, was the stated belief that a system of deterrence will be effective in promoting peace with China, as long as the status quo for sovereignty remains consistent. Witnesses recognised that China has internal political pressures that would likely demand a response if Taiwan were to declare independence from the mainland of China. US officials restated their commitment to maintaining the ‘One China’ policy, while the status quo remains in tact.
Taiwan significance as a global economic hub has deep implications for the United Staes and the world economy, should an outbreak of conflict occur in the region. Resnick stated that a disruption would threaten 180,000 US jobs, and interfere with the production of advanced defence capabilities that are dependent on Taiwan’s semiconductor fabrication facilities.