US General Wallace Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said that President Barack Obama’s administration “will not waver in its commitment to provide those defense articles and services necessary for Taiwan’s self-defense.”
But he stopped well short of telling the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, this week just what specific weapons systems would be offered.
Gregson didn’t mention the 66 F-16C/Ds that the Taiwanese military is anxious to buy from Washington. The closest he came to addressing the issue was to offer the generalized “commitment” promise.
“I’m sure many of you here tonight are quite eager to know more about what our administration considers to be the right tools for Taiwan,” he said.
Gregson, who went out of his way to emphasize the word “right,” said that he was not going to deal with the issue in detail.
“True and lasting security cannot be achieved simply by purchasing the next gleaming piece of advanced hardware. A defense strategy is most effectively implemented when you have the right tools. Taiwan’s defense strategy will therefore be most effective when its resource decisions are driven by a clear sense of its defense objectives and the most efficient means to achieve these objectives,” he said.
A senior military analyst in Washington said later that it was impossible to gauge from Gregson’s speech how the White House would handle Taiwan’s weapons requests.
On the one hand, Gregson seemed to be positive and ready to boost Taiwan’s military, but on the other he said nothing that might alarm Beijing ahead of Obama’s planned trip to China next month.
The analyst, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity, said that he did not expect any announcement on the F-16s before early next year.
The annual three-day meeting — organized by the lobby group US-Taiwan Business Council — focused on US-Taiwan defense and military cooperation and Taiwan’s defense and national security needs.
“A strong Taiwan will be less susceptible to coercion or intimidation and better able to engage the PRC [People’s Republic of China] with confidence. A strong Taiwan will be free to expand cross-strait economic, cultural and political ties without fear or reservation, and therefore everyone in the region — including the PRC — should view a strong Taiwan not as a threat but as a stabilizing force,” Gregson said.
“As a result of the PRC’s rapid economic growth and military modernization, Taiwan will never again have the luxury of relying on quantitative advantages over the PRC. Instead, Taiwan must look to its qualitative advantages through focusing on innovation and asymmetry,” he said.
“Taiwan should seek out new initiatives that will be more expensive for the PRC to defeat than they will be for Taiwan to employ. Asymmetry will not replace a layered defense or defeat PRC forces, but it can deter them from fully employing the advanced weapons they are developing and undermine their effectiveness,” he said.
General Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋), deputy minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, told the conference that the only way to sustain the easing of cross-strait tension was to maintain defensive capabilities.
“We do have expectations for assistance that could be provided by friends and allies as new challenges that we have never faced before, [that will] emerge along with the many tasks of defense reform,” Chao said.
“Critical acquisitions, including F-16C/Ds, diesel submarines, utility helicopters, additional two units of PAC 111, could not be completed before the budgets expired, thus obstructing follow-on annual budgeting and policy implementation. I’m sure the officials in charge did not mean to see such a development,” he said.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
IN PROTEST: The US’ top diplomat said the WHA had been deprived of Taiwan’s scientific expertise, while Tsai said political factors should not be put above health US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Monday condemned Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Assembly (WHA), while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday lodged a strong protest against the WHO for not inviting Taiwan. Twenty-two nations voiced support for Taiwan’s bid for participation on the first day of the assembly’s two-day virtual meeting, but despite the global community’s unprecedentedly strong support for Taiwan, it remained blocked from the assembly, with WHO member states on Monday agreeing to delay discussion on Taiwan until later this year. Pompeo, who on May 6 urged WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to invite Taiwan to the WHA,
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced no new cases of COVID-19, adding that a ban on mask exports would be lifted soon under three conditions. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that 401 people from among the nation’s 440 confirmed cases have been removed from isolation. Yesterday was the 12th consecutive day that no new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Taiwan, and the 37th day of no new domestic cases. “As our local communities have gradually become safe, we should not become careless,” Chen said. “We should continue to take personal protective measures