While China has long opposed U.S. arms exports to Taiwan, the Trump administration’s latest sales are worrying to Beijing for another reason: They show a greater alignment among the two democracies on the so-called “hedgehog” strategy to resist an invasion.
The U.S. weapons approved this month mark a notable shift in approach from the flashier warplanes and tanks traditionally favored in Taipei that were more vulnerable to an attack from Beijing. In the last two weeks, the State Department signed off on the $2.4 billion sale of 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems anti-ship missiles and $1.8 billion worth of extended-range land attack mobile missiles, as well as surveillance and reconnaissance sensors.
The move cements a transition toward greater asymmetric warfare capabilities long recommended by U.S. defense analysts and included in Taiwan’s own defense strategy since 2017. That plan seeks to inflict more damage on Chinese forces crossing the Taiwan Strait in an invasion, while limiting Beijing’s ability to wipe out Taiwan’s defenses and air force with a barrage of targeted missiles.