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Departing U.S. envoy hails boost in Taiwan’s defense capabilities

  • May 26, 2021
  • , Kyodo News , 10:37 p.m.
  • English Press

TAIPEI – The head of the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan said in his farewell speech Wednesday that the United States has approved $16.9 billion in weapons sales to the self-ruled island since he took office in 2018, strengthening its defensive capabilities.


Brent Christensen, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, said they include traditional platforms such as F-16 fighter jets and M1 tanks, as well as “more agile equipment” such as unmanned aerial vehicles and coastal defense systems including the Harpoon, an over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile.


He said his office has long advocated the need for Taiwan to focus on its “asymmetric capabilities” — that is, its ability to use its relative size and position to its advantage, rather than engage in an expensive arms race with mainland China.


The “cheaper, resilient and more mobile systems” supplied to Taiwan under his watch “support that approach,” he added.


Christensen criticized China’s “efforts to politicize issues like global health” — an apparent reference to its blocking of Taiwan’s participation in the World Health Assembly — and said “countries around the world are now clamoring to be Taiwan’s friends and partners.”

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