Ukraine conflict helps prepare for potential China clash – Pentagon
The Pentagon will use the lessons learned from supplying military aid to Ukraine to help Taiwan in a potential conflict with China, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks has said.
“There are many advantages we’ve gained for a potential Pacific challenge from the Ukraine conflict,” Hicks told Bloomberg in an interview published on Wednesday. “We’re learning now to grow our industrial base and to study that industrial base, which has been for the last 60 years in a bit of a feast and famine cycle.”
The conflict highlighted the difficulties of quickly procuring enough weapons and equipment for Kiev, Hicks explained. The US repeatedly used the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to speed up the transfer of stockpiles to Ukraine and plans to do the same with Taiwan.
“We’re thinking about how we use those authorities right now to generate faster and higher-capacity delivery of munitions to provide to our forces in the Pacific,” Hicks said, adding that the Pentagon has “a clear strategy that’s focused on China.”
Although the deputy secretary admitted that the US did not believe Beijing was planning an “imminent attack” on Taiwan, she maintained that the Pentagon was committed to “making sure that the (Chinese) leadership wakes up every day and says today is not the day to undertake aggression that threatens US interests.”
In December, US President Joe Biden signed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes $2 billion in military loans to Taipei. The law also allows Washington to muster an emergency stockpile of ammunition worth up to $100 million on or near the island.
Taiwanese Premier Chen Chien-jen said on Monday that negotiations of assembling “regional contingency stockpiles” were still ongoing.
Beijing held large-scale military exercises around the island this month in response to a visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the US. Beijing considers Taiwan – which has been ruled by a separate government since the late 1940s – its territory and views contact between local and foreign officials as meddling into its domestic affairs. China has also accused Washington of backing “secessionist forces” on the island.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said last year that Beijing favored peaceful “reunification” with Taiwan but reserved the right to use force if necessary.
The US supports the ‘One China’ policy by refraining from establishing formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan. At the same time, Washington has been selling arms to the local authorities and promised to defend the island in case of an invasion.