WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is quietly urging the Taiwanese government to order American-made weapons that would help the small army repel a naval invasion from China, rather than weapons designed for conventional warfare, it says current and former US and Taiwanese officials.

The US campaign to shape the defense of Taiwan has grown in urgency since the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine by President Vladimir V. Putin in late February. The war has convinced Washington and Taipei that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan in the coming years is now a potential threat – and that a smaller army with the right weapons has adopted a strategy of asymmetric warfare, focusing on mobility and precision strikes. can strike back a bigger enemy.

US officials are re-examining the capabilities of the Taiwanese military to determine whether it can repel an invasion, as Ukrainian forces have done.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen is trying to orient the country’s military toward asymmetric warfare and has purchased a large number of mobile, deadly weapons that are difficult to target and combat.

But some Taiwanese defense officials are resistant. And US officials have decided that certain weapon systems that the Taiwan Defense Ministry has been trying to order — for example, the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter made by Lockheed Martin — are unsuitable for warfare against the Chinese military.

The US officials have warned their Taiwanese counterparts that the State Department would deny such requests. They have also told US arms manufacturers to refrain from asking US agencies to approve Taiwanese orders for certain weapons. The purchasing process is complex, which involves many parties.

Pressure from the Biden administration has broadened and accelerated similar efforts by officials in the Trump and Obama administrations. Democratic and Republican officials and lawmakers say a lesson from the war in Ukraine is that the United States should help turn Taiwan into a “porcupine” to deter possible attacks from China.

The nine current and former US and Taiwanese officials familiar with the discussions spoke on a condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.

“I feel there has been a shift,” said Bonnie S. Glaser, an East Asia analyst at the United States’ German Marshall Fund. “It started before the invasion of Ukraine, but I think it has really solidified since then. There has been a wake-up call at the Pentagon to make sure Taiwan is serious, and we need to get serious too.”

Officials from the State Department and the Pentagon have been involved in talks with the Taiwanese government. Lawmakers and congressional officials have delivered similar messages. The Biden administration also sent a bipartisan delegation of five former senior national security officials to Taiwan in early March to meet with Ms. Tsai and other officials about issues such as the country’s defense strategy and weapons purchases.

“Continuing to pursue systems that do not contribute meaningfully to an effective defense strategy is inconsistent with the evolving security threat Taiwan faces,” a foreign ministry representative said in a statement. “As such, the United States strongly supports Taiwan’s efforts to implement an asymmetric defense strategy.”

Another State Department official said talks with Taiwan over arms took place early in the Biden administration, and both governments are now looking at lessons learned from the war in Ukraine.

For decades, Communist-ruled China has vowed to bring Taiwan, a democratic island with de facto independence that is an American partner, under its control. While there’s no sign of a war imminent, China’s President Xi Jinping has pursued a more aggressive foreign policy than his predecessors, and US officials fear he might invade Taiwan to seal his legacy.

The Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 requires the United States government to provide equipment of a defensive nature to Taiwan. Every administration since then has pursued a policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding military intervention — meaning they haven’t explicitly said whether the US military would defend Taiwan if China attacked.

President Biden has said he would keep US troops out of combat in Ukraine but has authorized the shipment of small, mobile weapons that have helped Ukrainian forces defeat the Russian military in critical battles, including around Kiev, the capital. The Ukrainian military has used an asymmetrical strategy with great success, mounting stubborn resistance against Russian tanks, fighter jets and battalion groups. Ukraine’s arsenal includes Javelin and Stinger missiles and armed drones.

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would be different from the Russian military’s efforts in Ukraine and more difficult. Chinese warships would have to cross more than 100 miles of water in the Taiwan Strait and land forces on the island. The Chinese and Taiwanese sides of the strait are full of missiles aimed at each other, and the United States and allied countries regularly send warships through the waterway as a show of force.

Re-supplying weapons to a besieged island of Taiwan could be more difficult for the United States and its allies than in Ukraine. As a result, some officials are considering depositing large amounts of ammunition in Taiwan.

In 2019, the State Department approved a $2.2 billion sale of weapons to Taiwan, including 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks. Some US officials at the time criticized the sale, saying that if Chinese forces advance far enough in an invasion that Taiwan must use tanks, the island would likely be doomed.

Many of Taiwan’s more recent orders were aligned with an asymmetric strategy. But some Taiwanese officials continue to pressure US officials over requests for expensive, conventional platforms like the Abrams tanks.

Several defense experts in Taiwan argue that the island needs some traditional systems to prepare for various war scenarios involving China.

“We’ve adopted many of the United States’ recommendations, but we still need some leeway to prepare for the possibility of other, longer-term scenarios,” said Chieh Chung, a security analyst with the National Policy Foundation in Taipei. † He said he was concerned that the war in Ukraine had caused the Americans to delve even deeper into the idea of ​​asymmetry, without considering Taiwan’s specific needs.

“Our artillery systems are so old. They need to be upgraded,” he added. “How can you ask us to take WWII gear to defend against China?”

On Thursday, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told parliament that the ministry had dropped a plan to buy the MH-60R helicopters because they were too expensive. He did not mention that US officials had urged Taiwan not to buy the helicopters. US and Taiwanese officials are also debating whether Taiwan should buy Northrop Grumman’s E-2D aircraft.

In recent weeks, Taiwanese officials have expressed frustration with the US government and US arms manufacturers, complaining about delivery delays and unfulfilled orders. Ms. Tsai herself sent messages to Washington, officials said.

mr. Chiu said two arms orders were delayed. One is a purchase of M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers made by BAE Systems, which US officials said were being held up due to insufficient production capacity, according to Taiwanese officials. The Department of Defense said it is now considering several alternatives offered by the United States, including HIMARS missile artillery launchers. BAE Systems told Defense News last week that it had the capacity to build the howitzers for Taiwan.

An order for Stinger anti-aircraft missiles has also been delayed, Mr. chiu.

Ukraine has requested regular deliveries of Javelin and Stinger missiles, and the Biden administration is providing them. Mr Chiu said Taiwan had already signed and paid for a contract for Stingers. The foreign ministry official said the war in Ukraine has not affected Taiwan’s order.

Stingers are among the types of weapons that US officials have encouraged Taiwan to order. The Americans have also urged Taiwan to buy Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Boeing. In April, Ukrainian forces sank a Russian flagship, the Moskva, using Neptune anti-ship missiles, which are made in Ukraine. That attack, which was carried out with the aid of American intelligence, was a defining moment in the war.

Some US officials say Taiwan should also buy more of offshore air defense missile systems, weaponized drones and naval mines.

“The question is, how focused are you on asymmetric warfare compared to other priorities?” said Evan S. Medeiros, a senior Asia director on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.

Suspicions in Washington and Taipei of China’s intentions against Taiwan have increased during the war in Ukraine, as Chinese officials have consistently supported Putin’s rationale for his invasion and helped spread disinformation and conspiracy theories favorable to Russia.

On February 4, when Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin met in Beijing for the start of the Winter Olympics, their two governments released a joint statement saying that their partnership knew “no boundaries”. A line said Russia affirmed that Taiwan is “an inalienable part of China”.

Edward Won reported from Washington, and Amy Qin from Taipei, Taiwan.

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