In her first term, President Tsai Ing-wen secured more than $10 billion in high-profile U.S. weapons to defend Taiwan against China. Over the next four years, it may be more important to acquire less glamorous but nimbler weapons to prevent Beijing from considering an invasion.

Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party views Taiwan as an independent nation, spent her first four years in office successfully securing high-tech arms commitments from U.S. President Donald Trump, including more advanced F-16s and battle tanks. Now she will need to show whether she can use that base to build a more credible deterrent against any attack by an increasingly powerful China.

The challenge is real. Taiwan has long been vulnerable to the ever-present threat of a military incursion from the mainland — which considers it a province — amid fears it could be absorbed by Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his desire for unification and continued to dramatically outspend Taiwan on defense. The investment has also eroded America's ability to intervene in any conflict.