While Russia is moving forward with its attack on Ukraine, many analysts have compared to Taiwan, another place that may face an invasion of its larger neighbor – China. U.S. defense officials fear that Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine paves the way for Beijing to achieve its ambitions for global military expansion and to wrest control of Taiwan.
The United States discussed efforts to address these ambitions with its allies and partners during a House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
“The United States is at a crucial moment with our allies and partners in meeting today’s and tomorrow’s challenges,” said Mara Karlin, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, Plans and Capabilities, referring to Russia and China.
She said: “Security cooperation is an important tool that helps key allies and partners strengthen their defenses and improves our ability to trust each other in a time of need.”
The forthcoming national defense strategy will underscore how the department will strengthen these alliances and partnerships to promote national security through integrated deterrence, Karlin said.
She noted that the United States has strengthened its partnerships with India, Australia, Japan and nations in Southeast Asia.
“Our support for Taiwan is rock solid,” she said, referring to the Taiwan Relations Act. The United States has provided them with $ 18 billion in security assistance and will continue to ensure they have the appropriate asymmetric defense capabilities, she added.
Top former US officials visit Taiwan amid tensions
Meanwhile, a delegation of former U.S. defense and security officials will arrive in Taiwan on Tuesday for a two-day visit, which is likely to provoke a strong reaction from China. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen heads the five-man delegation scheduled to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen and other top officials during the visit.
Tsai’s office said the delegation had been appointed by President Joe Biden and that the visit would allow “an in-depth exchange of views on Taiwan-US cooperation issues in various areas.”
Will the Russian invasion provoke China?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn new attention to China’s threat to use force to annex autonomous democratic Taiwan, which it claims is its own territory.
However, the circumstances are very different: Taiwan is located 160 kilometers (100 miles) across the turbulent Taiwan Strait from mainland China and enjoys strong support from the United States, which is legally obliged to ensure that the island can defend itself.
In particular, China has refused to condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine and has criticized sanctions against Moscow.
At the same time, China has sent military aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone almost daily. On Saturday, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense protested with a provocative passage of the guided missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson through the Taiwan Strait.
China routinely protests against US contacts with the Taiwanese government. In November, Beijing announced that its military was conducting air and naval contingency patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, after five U.S. lawmakers met with Tsai on a surprising one-day visit.