Pentagon Official terms Ukraine a ‘Case Study’ for Taiwan
During a series of congressional hearings this week, lawmakers pressed US military leaders and intelligence officials to learn from lessons drawn from the current situation in Ukraine with regard to Taiwan.
A top Pentagon official heading US President Joe Biden's National Defense Strategy planning has told US lawmakers that upcoming plans for defending Taiwan should include lessons learned from the current situation in Ukraine, with a focus on guerrilla tactics.
Mara Karlin, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “the situation we’re seeing in Ukraine right now is a very worthwhile case study for them about why Taiwan needs to do all it can to build asymmetric capabilities, to get its population ready so that it can be as prickly as possible should China choose to violate its sovereignty.”
Asymmetric warfare, also known as irregular warfare, refers to insurgent or guerrilla tactics in which a smaller, dispersed, and mobile force defends the territory against a larger invading force. Congress defined "defensive asymmetric capabilities" in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the massive law passed in December 2021 that funds the Pentagon budget, as "the capabilities necessary to defend Taiwan against conventional external threats, including coastal defense missiles, naval mines, anti-aircraft capabilities, cyber defenses, and special operations forces."
On his account, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, Liu Pengyu told Reuters that Karlin’s proposal “would not only push Taiwan into a precarious situation but also bring unbearable consequences for the US side.”
While the United States has long supplied the Taiwanese government with weapons of war, the pace of armament sales rapidly increased after 2017. Between 2017 and 2021, the US sold $18.3 billion in weapons to Taiwan, a trend that Biden has continued since taking office in January 2021.
Furthermore, a group of Republican senators proposed the "Taiwan Deterrence Act" in November 2021, which would create a $2 billion-per-year funnel of weapons into the small island nation off Asia's east coast.
Taiwan's government formally refers to itself as the Republic of China, and it is the only remnant of the republican government that ruled all of China from the abdication of the last Chinese emperor in 1912 until the communist victory in the civil war in 1949. While the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China on the mainland, it was unable to take back Taiwan at the time. Both governments claim to be China's sole legitimate government.
Following the launch of Russia's special military operation in Ukraine in late February, US officials expressed concern that a Chinese move against Taiwan could follow.
However, there have been no reports of Beijing preparing for such an operation. If this occurs, there are doubts that the US will be able to prevent Beijing from asserting sovereignty over the island - or that the US will even attempt to do so.
Earlier, during a meeting of the National People's Congress, Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi told reporters that the situations in Ukraine and Taiwan were completely different.
“The most fundamental difference is Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the Taiwan question completely belongs to China's domestic affairs, while the Ukraine issue is a dispute between Russia and Ukraine," Wang said.
"The scheme to use Taiwan to contain China is doomed to fail and Taiwan will eventually return to the embrace of the motherland," he concluded.
It is worth mentioning that China sees that Taiwan, which is off its east coast, is part of its territory. The two Chinese territories split in 1949, during the Chinese Civil War. At the time, the Chinese Communist Party took control of mainland China and the nationalists formed an opposition government in Taiwan.
Relations grew tense between China and the island recently over a comment made by Chinese President Xi Xinping. The leader pledged to peacefully reunify Taiwan with China; however, he did not indicate that Beijing would use force. This received a displeased response from Taipei, as the island asserted that only the people of Taiwan are able to decide their future.