Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing to arm and train Taiwan in preparation for a potential attack by China, The Washington Post reported.
Discussions on an unprecedented package of billions of dollars in military assistance to Taiwan come as President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in person in Indonesia this week.
The two leaders were expected to discuss several topics, including the maintaining of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Still, lawmakers are seeking to provide weapons for the first time to Taiwan through the foreign military financing program, paid for by the U.S., the Post reported.
The bipartisan effort would enable the U.S. military to immediately provide weapons — such as anti-ship cruise missiles and anti-air defense systems, self-detonating drones, naval mines, command-and-control systems, and secure radios — with the goal of supplying Taiwan with arms before a conflict begins.
"One of the lessons of Ukraine is that you need to arm your partners before the shooting starts, and that gives you your best chance of avoiding war in the first place," said Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., a member on the House Armed Services Committee, the Post reported.
Supporters say the aid would be consistent with America's obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, which states that U.S. policy is to provide Taiwan arms for self-defense.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, an Armed Services Committee member, said the goal is to "make the Taiwanese a formidable military force that can defend itself, like the Ukrainians, or at least make it very hard for the People's Liberation Army to attack them."
Details of the assistance package are being finalized in the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, which would allow the provision annually to Taiwan of $1 billion worth of stockpiled U.S. munitions and up to $2 billion worth of weapons annually for five years paid for with U.S. tax dollars.
Only Israel gets more from the U.S. annually.
The Post said Democrat leaders of the House and the Senate support the provisions to arm Taiwan. However, it remained unclear if the appropriations committees, which control the purse strings, are convinced of the need.
The 2023 budget proposal does not include any support for Taiwan. If appropriators don't find cuts to cover the weapons assistance, Biden will need to submit an emergency request to finance the spending.
"Our engagement with Congress has been focused on ensuring that legislation that moves forward is clearly consistent with our policy framework that has helped maintain peace and stability across the [Taiwan] Strait," one senior administration official told the Post.
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