A top US general said on Friday it was imperative that the United States and its allies accelerate arms deliveries to Taiwan in the coming years to help the island defend itself.
The United States is the most important arms supplier to Taiwan.
Beijing has repeatedly called for an end to US arms sales to Taiwan, seeing it as unwarranted support for the democratically governed island that Beijing claims sovereignty.
“The speed at which we, the United States, or other countries help Taiwan improve its defense capabilities, I think probably needs to accelerate in the coming years,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a visit to Tokyo.
General Milley added that Taiwan needs weapons such as air defense systems and weapons that can target ships from land.
“I think it’s important to improve Taiwan’s military and defense capabilities,” he said.
Taiwan has complained since last year of delays in deliveries of US weapons such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as arms producers diverted supplies to Ukraine as it battled invading Russian forces.
This issue has alarmed some US lawmakers.
Taiwan said its defense spending this year would focus on preparing weapons and equipment for a comprehensive blockade by China, including spare parts for F16 fighter jets and replenishing weapons stocks.
China held war games around the island in August, fired missiles over Taipei and declared no-fly zones and no-sea zones, mimicking what it would do if it tried to blockade Taiwan during a war.
General Milley said that relations between the United States and China are in deep waters and that recent diplomatic meetings, including between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, were important to reduce the potential for escalation.
He added that the United States is studying whether it needs to change the location of some US forces within the Asia-Pacific region.
The majority of US forces in the region are located in Northeast Asia, including 28,500 troops in South Korea and 56,000 troops in Japan.