China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan's government rejects Beijing's sovereignty claims.

Taiwan has for the last two years complained of delays to deliveries of U.S. weapons, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as manufacturers supply Ukraine to support its defence against Russia.

Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who promised those weapons would be delivered when he visited Taiwan last year, said the Chinese military's "armada" last week had sent a very strong message to the United States.

"We are moving forward on those weapons systems. I'd like to see it faster, but they are forthcoming," McCaul told reporters after meeting Taiwan President Lai Ching-te.

Taiwan needs to have sufficient weapons to show Chinese President Xi Jinping that the risk outweighs the rewards of invading the island, he added.

"President Lai and I, as always, had a very sobering and yet very direct conversation about the threat that this island faces from its neighbour to the north, and it's a real one," McCaul said. "Without deterrence, Chairman Xi has bold and aggressive ambitions."

China last year placed sanctions on McCaul after his visit to Taiwan and meeting with then-President Tsai Ing-wen.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Sonali Paul and Gerry Doyle)