Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said in an interview that Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine has been a wake-up call for Taiwan to stockpile weapons as tensions with China continue to grow.
In an interview with the Washington Post published Wednesday, Gallagher said that many Taiwanese officials he met during his trip told him about their concerns with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
“Almost every Taiwanese official I met with mentioned the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a wake-up call,” Gallagher told the Post, noting that he met with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and members of her administration during his four-day visit in the sovereign country.
Gallagher referred to concerns from Taiwanese leaders over a $19 billion arms backlog. In the case of some weapons, like anti-ship missiles, one congressional aide said they “aren’t likely to begin arriving in real numbers until 2027 at the earliest,” according to The Washington Post.
“That was the biggest thing we heard from every major Taiwanese leader — concerns over delays,” Gallagher added. “That’s troubling the Taiwanese, and I think that’s unacceptable.”
Gallagher, a former Marine Corps intelligence officer and chairman of the House select committee on China, also said it is urgent for the U.S. to send weapons to Taiwan in an effort to prevent China from invading the country and the possibility of a third World War from happening.
“We need to be moving heaven and earth to arm Taiwan to the teeth to avoid a war,” Gallagher told the Post. “Nobody knows if and when Xi Jinping wakes up and decides to do this but all the more reason to put in place a denial posture as quickly as possible.”
Gallagher’s remarks come as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is “increasingly concerned” that China may provide Russia with weapons for its ongoing war with neighboring Ukraine.
“We are also increasingly concerned that China may be planning to provide lethal support for Russia’s war,” Stoltenberg said at a joint news conference. “Putin must not win. That would show that aggression works and force is rewarded. It would be dangerous for our own security, and for the whole world.”
Stoltenberg also said last month that China is closely watching Russia’s war with Ukraine and “learning lessons” from it.
Western powers have shared their concern about about China possibly invading neighboring Taiwan, with a U.S. general saying in a memo that he believes the country will be at war with China by 2025.
China has ramped up its military and economic pressure on Taiwan in recent months, with experts predicting Chinese President Xi Jinping will use various tools in the coming year to impose Chinese control of the island.