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House Armed Services Committee vice chairman promises ‘resolute response’ if Taiwan comes under attack

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A U.S. congressional delegation visiting Taiwan said Friday Washington would act if the island was attacked and vowed to resolve the $19 billion backlog in U.S. defense purchases.

“Know that any hostile and unprovoked attack on Taiwan will elicit a resolute response from the United States,” Rob Wittman, deputy chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a speech before the conference. meetings with President Tsai Ing-Wen.

US law requires Washington to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and treats all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern”, but remains ambiguous on whether it would commit forces in response to a Chinese attack.

Wittman, from Virginia, along with Carlos Gimenez, from Florida, and Jen Kiggans, from Virginia, arrived Thursday for a three-day visit to Taiwan. The three Republicans meet with Tsai and the head of Taiwan’s National Security Council, Wellington Koo.

LEARN MORE: US approves new $500m arms sale to Taiwan as China’s aggression escalates

Taiwan is a Chinese-claimed self-governing island that has faced increasing military harassment in recent years as Chinese warplanes and navy ships hold daily drills targeting the island, often approaching the island or encircling it. Over the years, to bolster its defenses, Taiwan has purchased $19 billion worth of military items from the United States, but most have still not been delivered.

“We have an obligation to ensure that we close the backlog in foreign military sales that currently exists between our countries,” Wittman said, adding that Republicans and Democrats are working on the issue.

The United States began to find new ways to support Taiwan with defense assistance. In July, the United States announced $345 million in military aid under a major program drawing on its own stockpiles.

On Wednesday, the Biden administration approved the first-ever US military transfer to Taiwan under a program usually reserved for assistance to sovereign and independent states. The amount was a modest $80 million, and officials did not specify what exactly that money would be used for.

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