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US Navy officer calls on Taiwan to boost asymmetric warfare capability

Admiral Samuel J. Paparo says China ramping up military pressure on Taiwan

Troops from 542nd Armor Brigade train during Han Kuang exercises in 2019. 

Troops from 542nd Armor Brigade train during Han Kuang exercises in 2019.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Admiral Samuel J. Paparo, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander nominee, urged Taiwan to continue bolstering its asymmetric warfare capability to counter a Chinese attack during a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on Thursday (Feb. 1).

“In my view, Taiwan should continue to prioritize the acquisition of asymmetric systems that are highly mobile, distributed, and lethal to enable Taiwan to defend itself against attack,” Paparo said. However, he acknowledged that Taiwan has been building up its reserve forces.

China has developed increasingly advanced weapons “specifically intended to achieve decisive overmatch against Taiwan,” he said. The United States can help prevent miscalculation by maintaining our longstanding policy in support of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

When asked if the U.S. should respond militarily to a cross-strait conflict, Paparo reiterated Washington’s commitments to the Taiwan Relations Act, Three Communiques, and the Six Assurances. “If confirmed, I ask that we discuss the benefits and risks of a policy change in a classified session,” he added.

The admiral said China’s aggression is in “stark contrast” to America’s values of freedom, sovereignty, and transparency. He stressed that the U.S. prioritizes avoiding conflict through military-to-military dialogue to resolve disputes.

Only if peaceful means were exhausted would he use the U.S.’ “readiness and credible fighting force,” he said.

Paparo’s comments come a week after U.S. Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John C. Aquilino said that China would likely make a show of force against Taiwan following its recent elections. Aquilino said Beijing would launch "some demonstration of force against Taiwan in the near term" because Taiwan held a "free and fair election, of which a candidate was elected."