Less than a month after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the US Navy sent the warships USS Chancellorsville and USS Antietam through the Taiwan Strait. The United States considers the strait to be international waters, a claim China disputes, and has conducted other freedom of navigation maneuvers through the strait in the past to cement its status as international waters. President Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan has raised tensions with China, whose response has been to send 27 warplanes into the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone as part of a planned military exercise in four days.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby defended U.S. transit, saying it was “highly consistent” with the policy of seeking a “free and open Indo-Pacific “. China observed the movement of the ships and prepared its troops for a possible attack. “Troops from the (Eastern) Theater Command are on high alert and ready to thwart any provocation at any time,” the senior colonel and spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said. Shi Yi.
Collin Koh, a researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, which has maintained a database of American transits, placed this transit in its historical context. “Having two ships instead of one to carry out this mission is definitely a ‘bigger’ signal of protest,” Koh said.
The United States remained committed to defending Taiwan against any potential Chinese aggression. Senator Marsha Blackburn, during a visit to the island, claimed that “Taiwan is our most powerful partner in the Indo-Pacific region” and President Biden announced that the United States would defend the Taiwanese military in case of Chinese invasion.
Publicly announcing US support for Taiwan is a moral and sound policy. Taiwan’s right to sovereignty as a free and democratic country trumps China’s nationalist claim to the island and the strait; asserting this fact reinforces Taiwan’s legitimacy in the international community. Free governments deserve legitimacy and sovereignty, and they deserve those rights not to be threatened by authoritarian states like China; it is the moral case for Taiwan independence and the United States should continually do so.
The question of how the United States should defend Taiwan deserves more attention, however. The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 states that the United States “will available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services as are necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities”. This policy differed from the China-US Mutual Defense Treaty, which lasted from 1955 to 1980 and required the United States to defend Taiwan from any Chinese attack on its mainland and outlying islands.
The Taiwan Relations Act defense policy outlines the correct approach for the United States regarding the defense of Taiwan. The United States should not engage in foreign conflict unless it has an explicit goal of self-defense. Democratic states, such as Taiwan, that are threatened by authoritarian states should be encouraged to purchase the weapons necessary for their own defense, and the United States should share intelligence and other technologies necessary for defense with those states. In addition to their combat use, the sale of weapons such as harpoon anti-ship missiles, HIMARS and F-22 fighter jets (which Defense and National Security Columnist Stavros Atlamazoglou suggested in a 1945 article) would deter China from launching a full-scale invasion of Taiwan due to the increased difficulty of invading a well-armed nation.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed the brutal impact of failing to effectively equip a nation with the technology and weapons necessary for self-defense. The United States must avoid making the same mistake by encouraging Taiwan to buy the most advanced weapons and military technology.