Fri, Oct 19, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Kurt Campbell on Taiwan: US stalling may have ramifications

By Kurt Campbell

If that is the case, it is likely we will be headed for a showdown between the legislative and executive branches over the meaning of the Taiwan Relations Act, particularly the clause that requires the US to provide Taiwan with the necessary defensive military hardware.

Finally, the US government is perhaps indicating it is simply not ready to make a decision on such a potentially important issue at such a critical juncture with political transitions around the corner in Washington and Taipei, and believes the matter is better left for the next US administration.

China is indeed gearing up to take major exception to the very idea that the US should continue to provide the wherewithal for Taiwan's defense. While China has often expressed public dismay at such steps in the past, there are signs that this time they are prepared to ratchet up the tension level substantially.

By delaying this decision at the outset rather than simply treating it as a normal and perfectly reasonable request, the Bush team may have inadvertently created the context for a much bigger deal than they bargained for. In the face of China's unrelenting military buildup, and even with attention focused more on Iraq than Asia, the Bush team must soon make clear its ultimate intentions of defending Taiwan, given the growing concerns.

Kurt Campbell is the chief executive officer and cofounder of the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

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