Issue Briefs

Why Sell Weapons To Taiwan? Because Washington’s China Strategy Won’t Work Without It.

Why Sell Weapons To Taiwan? Because Washington’s China Strategy Won’t Work Without It.

October 28, 2019

By Loren Thompson

Someday very soon the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan, will receive formal approval from Washington to move ahead with its biggest purchase of U.S. arms in many years. The package includes over a hundred M1A2 tanks, hundreds of surface-to-air and anti-tank weapons, and the first U.S. fighters Taipei has bought from America since 1992.

When the 66 F-16 fighters Taiwan is purchasing are added to 144 it already owns that are being upgraded to the same “Viper” configuration, the Republic of China will have a potent air arm capable of opposing any amphibious attack or naval blockade mounted by the neighboring People’s Republic of China. The People’s Republic lies barely a hundred miles away across the Taiwan Strait, and as far as its leaders are concerned, Taiwan is a renegade province that must one day be reunified with the mainland.

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The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.