TAIPEI (TVBS News) — Rising cross-strait tensions have become a concern for many democracies around the world. As China increases its military drills surrounding Taiwan, former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper advises Taiwan to boost its defense budget to enhance asymmetric warfare capabilities.
Dr. Esper shared his take on China's military excursions and what the U.S. can do to assist Taiwan's defense in an exclusive interview with TVBS News.
"I think the Biden administration needs to reprioritize and accelerate arms deliveries to Taiwan," the former U.S. official said.
"My view is that the more quickly we can arm Taiwan, the more quickly Taiwan can arm itself; train itself to do those things."
Taiwan's Cabinet recently approved a record-high national defense budget of NT＄606.8 billion (US＄19.1 billion) for 2024, but it still amounts to roughly 2.5% of the GDP.
Esper argues that Taiwan's defense budget should be increased to above 3% of its GDP to develop an asymmetric warfare approach.
He emphasized that stockpiling energy, arms, and a resilient telecommunications network are essential to countering an invasion.
Esper also considers India a key player in building regional defenses among other Asian democracies.
"You look at the Quad, which involves India, Japan, Australia, United States, that's a good development," he pointed out.
He added that as China intends to claim the South China Sea, getting all those countries on board is paramount.
Esper pointed out that in his book "A Sacred Oath," he had argued that "China is the most strategic threat we face in the 21st century."
"And in my view, India is the most important strategic partnership we need to develop as well during that time frame."
As the Chinese threat continues to grow, Esper recommends that the Taiwanese government remain steadfast and acquire sufficient equipment and training to arm itself.
In light of the Central American Parliament's vote to favor China and expel Taiwan, Esper strongly advocates for Taiwan's participation and representation in international organizations.
Meanwhile, the former U.S. defense secretary underscores that democracies are vulnerable, and Taiwan should take all possible measures to defend its freedom and sovereignty.