'History is clear,' US will respond when Taiwan is threatened says Pentagon official

Asst. Sec. of Asia and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall Schriver, on Taiwan's defense at press conference following Pentagon's annual China report

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USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (US Navy photo)

USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (US Navy photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) –Following the release last week of the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) annual report to Congress on China, the DOD Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall Schriver, gave a press conference to discuss items in the report.

During the address, made on May 3, Schriver made encouraging remarks regarding the Taiwan-U.S. relationship, and the prospect of U.S. support for Taiwan in response to threatening Chinese actions.

“I think our history is clear: When Taiwan has been threatened, the U.S. has responded in an appropriate manner to help support Taiwan… I think it could be well-expected that we would want to see Taiwan be able to preserve its status, free from coercion.”

His statement was in response to a reporter from Taiwan’s United Daily News, who asked “If China invades Taiwan, will U.S. military help to defend Taiwan?”

Schriver noted that the U.S. is required by law to regard threats to Taiwan by China with grave concern, and that the President and Congress could be expected to consult and execute an appropriate response to such threats or coercive behavior.


Randall Schriver, May 3 (Department of Defense Photo)

In another segment of the press conference, mentioning increased pressure from China, a reporter asked “What can the U.S. do to provide more tangible substantial support to Taiwan?”

To which Schriver responded, that the U.S. will continue to faithfully implement the “Taiwan Relations Act” (TRA), and provide for the materials that would enable Taiwan to defend itself in the face of Chinese aggression.

In addition to providing equipment sufficient for Taiwan’s self-defense, the U.S. also maintain “the capacity to resist force, should our national command authority ask us to do so,” added Schriver.

“We don't just sell them weapons that are required for their defense, we support training and we support the professionalization of the military, looking at reserve forces, et cetera…So we'll continue faithful implementation of the TRA as the best mechanism to deal with the emerging China threat that they face.”

When discussing the pending sale of new F-16s to Taiwan, Schriver noted that the Pentagon will make weapons sales to Taiwan based the “clear and evolving” threat they face across the Taiwan Strait, and that Taiwan could continue to be provided with “appropriate” measures to ensure its own defense.

“The efforts to diplomatically, politically, economically isolate Taiwan suggest that they need a boost in their own confidence and need to see the support of the United States and other friends and partners.”

Randall Schriver’s full comments can be read at the Department of Defense webpage. The Pentagon’s congressional report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019” can be read here (PDF).