U.S. backlogged in delivering purchased weapons to Taiwan as China seems emboldened in the region

By Jen Krausz on
 May 8, 2023

It might be due to so many U.S. weapons going to Ukraine to help it fight off Russia, but about $19 billion in weapons already purchased by Taiwan have not made their way to the island, now under increasing threat from Chinese aggression.

"I was in Taiwan a couple of months ago and probably my biggest takeaway was that we need to actually deliver the weapons that they've purchased that have been approved but are backlogged right now," said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the new House Select Committee on China, said in an interview. "There's a $19 billion backlog."

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) also sounded the alarm in a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in December, expressing "concern about reports that U.S. arms transfers to Ukraine are impeding our ability to prevent a war in Asia by supplying Taiwan with the weapons it needs to deter a Chinese invasion."

Hawley contended that Taiwan is more important to U.S. national security than Ukraine, as well as "economic security and freedom of action." Taiwan produces a large percentage of computer chips needed for all kinds of devices in the U.S., and Chinese control of the island could deprive us of those resources, crippling many aspects of U.S. life.

"Averting the real and growing threat from China requires us to expedite delivery to Taiwan of the weapons it needs to defend itself — provided Taiwan commits to an asymmetric defense, significantly increases its own defense spending, and pursues necessary defense reforms," he said.

"I think one of the clear lessons of the war in Ukraine is that only hard power deters," Gallagher said. "The vague threat of sanctions or mean tweets coming out of the State Department doesn't give us a chance at deterrence. Only hard power deters."