Taiwan stocks up on US weapons helping Ukraine hold off Russia

Western officials have credited US weapons as key to staving off a quick Russian victory. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - Taiwan is stockpiling US-made weaponry that Ukraine has used to thwart Russia's military, a sign Taipei is applying lessons from the conflict to deter China from following through on threats to take the self-ruled island by force if necessary.

An order for Javelin anti-tank missiles has entered the production and delivery phase, Taiwan Army Chief of Staff Chang Yuan-shiun said on Wednesday (Aug 31) at briefing in the capital.

"The programme is being implemented as planned," he said.

Chang added that "there is a combined management and planning effort by Taiwan and the United States to make sure that the system is delivered on time", but did not offer a date.

The military of Taiwan also plans to increase its order of Himars long-range artillery weaponry to 29 from the 11 it had planned, according to the semi-official Central News Agency, which cited a defence budget report.

That order, which also included some 860 precision rockets for the Himars, is scheduled for 2027 delivery.

US and Nato officials have credited Javelins and other anti-armour systems as key to staving off a quick Russian victory in the early days of the war.

Ukrainian forces have used the Himars artillery to hit Russian supply lines and ammunition stores behind the front with increasing effectiveness.

Taiwan already has Javelin systems but not the Himars.

Still, the move upset China, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian saying at a press briefing in Beijing that any effort by officials from President Tsai Ing-wen’s Democratic Progressive Party “to solicit US support for independence is doomed to fail”.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification with the mainland, by force if necessary.

After reports the Biden administration is preparing to sell US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) in different missiles and radar support to Taiwan - in what would be the largest such deal in almost two years - Beijing called on the US to stop arms sales and military contact with the island.

Tensions between Washington and Beijing escalated after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan this month.

China responded by holding unprecedented military exercises around the island and firing missiles over it.

While China's military has reduced its activities and threats following those drills, they still remain, Defence Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang said at the same briefing as Chang.

The actions of the People's Liberation Army harm the bond between people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, he added.

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