Washington, March 10 (CNA) A senior U.S. defense official said Thursday that Taiwan should strengthen its asymmetric capabilities as a preparatory measure in the event of an attack from China.
Mara Karlin, US assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, told a Senate hearing that Russia’s war on Ukraine illustrates why Taiwan needs to be prepared.
“I think the situation we’re seeing in Ukraine right now is a very interesting case study…of why Taiwan needs to do everything possible to develop asymmetric capabilities, to prepare its people, so they can be ready as quickly as possible if China chooses to violate its sovereignty,” Mara said during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
She was responding to questions from committee chairman Bob Menendez, who asked when the last time the US Department of Defense and Taiwan conducted a joint assessment of the latter’s defense capabilities and needs.
Although Karlin did not give a specific date, she said the two sides have held regular consultations on the matter, which allows the United States to help ensure that Taiwan builds a military suitable for the threats perceived by Washington.
“Making sure Taiwan gets the asymmetric capabilities it needs, which is the most appropriate, is a top priority,” Karlin said.
During the hearing, Jessica Lewis, assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, also said that to compensate for China’s military superiority, Taiwan should focus on building up its asymmetric military capabilities, rather than the acquisition of more conventional military weapons.
Asymmetric military systems, which have been put to good use in Ukraine, are cost-effective, mobile, resilient and decentralized, Lewis said, citing as examples short-range air defense systems, naval sea mines and missile defense and coastal cruising.
“Obviously we don’t want there to be a conflict in Taiwan, but what they are doing is taking steps to resolve this issue,” Lewis said. “They have just created the establishment of an all-out defense mobilization organization, and they are working with our national guard to develop this program.
“Our support (for Taiwan) remains rock-solid,” Lewis told the committee, which held the hearing to ask about Washington’s external security cooperation and assistance, including the threat on Taiwan from China, a major military power.
On Wednesday, Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said in an interview on Yahoo TV that while it’s hard to say whether today’s Ukraine will be tomorrow’s Taiwan, his country must be fully prepared. at worst.
However, any Chinese attack on Taiwan would draw global support for Taiwan, Lai said.