Sun, Jan 31, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan arms sale moves to Congress

NO SURPRISESUS President Barack Obama notified Congress of the sale. China suspended US military exchanges and imposed sanctions on US companies

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

“We think that this action is consistent with the US one-China policy based on three joint communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act, and contributes to maintaining security and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Crowley said the Obama ­administration did not consult with China before deciding on the sales, but said Beijing had been informed that notification of the sales was going to Congress.

Asked if the decision not to sell F-16s was based on concerns about the Chinese reaction, Crowley said: “No. It was based on our evaluation of the defensive needs of Taiwan.”

The US Taiwan Business Council expressed its concern about stacking multiple congressional notifications into groups, as well as the increased stretches of time between the notifications.

“In Taipei, US indecision undermines Taiwan’s attempts to provide for its own defense and can result in unused budgeted funds that must be returned to the treasury at the end of each year,” the statement said.

It added that uncertainty about the arms sales programs, their timing and content, raised doubts about US commitments to Taiwan and could lead Beijing into “miscalculations regarding American resolve in the Taiwan Strait.”

The council said: “The Chinese reflexively oppose all arms sales to Taiwan, irrespective of platform or system. Consequently, the Chinese reaction to this package of notifications has been, and will likely continue to be, both broad and shrill.

“While the Chinese cannot overturn the programs that were notified today, they almost certainly believe that they can make enough of a fuss to discourage the Obama administration from making further decisions regarding arms sales to Taiwan — particularly on the possible follow-on sale of F-16s.”

The Council predicts a long delay before Obama makes a final decision on the F-16 sale.

“China recognizes the tactical advantage this delay is creating and is attempting to raise the stakes in Washington in an attempt to kill consideration completely,” the council said.

“If China is able — with its actions, tantrums and threats to ‘spook’ the Obama administration into indefinite delay, then China has achieved its goal and Taiwan’s ability to control its own airspace will start to dramatically wane,” it said.

Yesterday Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei (何亞非) warned US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, that the arms deal could jeopardize bonds with Washington.

“The United States’ announcement of the planned weapons sales to Taiwan will have a seriously negative impact on many important areas of exchanges and cooperation between the two countries,” He said.

He said the arms sales were “crude interference in China’s domestic affairs and seriously harm China’s national security,” words notably tougher than Beijing’s recent statements on the issue.

“This will lead to repercussions that neither side wishes to see,” he said.

He urged the US to halt the planned sales.

In a later statement, China’s foreign ministry said: “Cooperation between China and the US on key international and regional issue will also inevitably be affected.”

“China will also implement relevant sanctions on US companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan,” it said.

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