A new US-Taiwan Business Council report recommends that the US sell Taiwan the 66 advanced F-16C/D fighters it has requested.
“The fighter gap, if not bridged in a timely manner, could permanently solidify the already tilting cross-strait air power balance in favor of China,” says the report, titled Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait.
“Such a state of military imbalance would then undermine deterrence, and could expose Taiwan to political extortion backed by military intimidation,” it says.
The report was released at a seminar held in a US Senate meeting room with council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers moderating and presentations by Fu Mei, director of the Taiwan Security Analysis Center and Richard Fisher, senior fellow, Asian Military Affairs, International Assessment and Strategy Center.
“It is imperative to deal quickly with the growing cross-strait fighter imbalance so that deliveries to Taiwan may begin by 2014,” the report says.
That is the year Taiwan’s F-5s are scheduled for retirement, leaving the Air Force dramatically short of fighters. The F-16 production line could also close without an additional order before next year.
“In the event of a conflict with China, a modernized and capable Taiwan air force could play a critical and constructive role in supporting the United States. It would be easy to presume that China’s vast resources, and its commitment towards expanding the capabilities of its military, would render the situation hopeless for Taiwan,” the report says.
“This report concludes that Taiwan has both the resources and the wherewithal to mount a sufficient self-defense in response to the evolving threat represented by PRC [People’s Republic of China] military modernization,” it says.
An economically and militarily strong Taiwan — able to engage China with confidence — is in the best position to act as a force for stability in the Taiwan Strait, The report says.
“It is not too late for Taiwan,” the report says.
Asked how “realistic” it was to expect the US to sell F-16s to Taiwan, Hammond-Chambers said: “There are going to be pockets of support and pockets of opposition, based on the interests of those in the decision-making chain.”
“Will [US President Barack Obama’s administration] consider another round of arms sales to Taiwan in the next year? I absolutely believe that they will. Absolutely. Because it is in the interests of the United States. Because peace and security in the Taiwan Strait is in the interests of the United States. We have a legacy relationship with Taiwan that has broad regional implications,” he said.
“To back off Taiwan isn’t just to reduce our support for Taiwan, it is to send a message to the Japanese and the South Koreans and Singaporeans and the Aussies and others that we are changing our security role in the region in the face of Chinese opposition. That is going to increasingly factor in consideration of Taiwanese arms sales,” he said.
Fisher said that if the F-16 sale does not go through, the US will be inviting “unforeseen, very negative, consequences” from China.
“There’s always been a battle in Washington about taking the right course on Taiwan,” he added. “I have taken part in some of these battles for close to 30 years. It’s quite clear that Taiwan does not gain any ground that is not fought for.”
“The decision on the F-16s will come to a head sooner rather than later, given that we are moving away from producing F-16s,” Hammond-Chambers said. “This opportunity for us to provide Taiwan with F-16s to upgrade its air force will be with us for the next 12 months.”
“If we don’t sell F-16s to Taiwan real soon we will be condemning Taiwan’s air defense to a decisive second place,” Fisher said. “The F-16C/D is the minimum necessary to maintain a semblance of a balance.”
“Providing Taiwan with its minimum defensive capability is going to be very valuable over the next few years when China and Taiwan finally begin the long-stalled political dialogue,” Fu said. “Taiwan needs to have all the chips it can afford on the table. If the US is unwilling to provide F-16s, it is not only setting back Taiwan’s defense, it could make Taiwan unable to negotiate from a position of confidence and strength. And that could have real consequences, not only for Taiwan, but for US national security interests in the region.”
But Fisher offered what he called “a note of hope.”
He recalled giving a “gloomy briefing” on Taiwan’s military future to about 1,000 midshipmen at the US Naval Academy.
At the end, a first-year student from Taiwan raised his hand and said: “I can assure you, Mr Fisher, we will defend our country.”
Immediately, Fisher said, the audience jumped to their feet and cheered.
PROTECTION: The New Taipei City mayor said a pass could cover stores, but not eateries, while Ko Wen-je said vaccinated people could be exempted from some rules Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) on Saturday proposed implementing a “COVID-19 pass” regulation that would allow only vaccinated people into certain areas. New Taipei City is planning to require a “COVID-19 pass” for entry to “vulnerable spaces” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Hou said. Non-students entering elementary schools in New Taipei City are required to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. This is for the protection of students under the age of 12, who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, city officials have said. The
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they
BRIBES FOR VOTES: A probe found that funding for the scheme came from Huang Daonian, director of the Economic Bureau at Changsha City’s Taiwan Affairs Office Five Taiwanese businesspeople working in China were yesterday found guilty of taking money from Chinese authorities to buy votes for Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the 2020 presidential election. The Taipei District Court sentenced Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises (台灣同胞投資企業協會) Changsha City Branch chairman Lin Huai (林懷) to three years and 10 months in jail, with deprivation of his civil rights for four years. The other four convicted in the case, who all received 20-month prison terms, were China New Family Association (中華兩岸新家庭協會) chairwoman Chiang Ming-sia (蔣明霞), Hunan Shaoyang City Association in Taiwan (湖南邵陽旅台同鄉會) director Chang Kuo-chun (張國君),
LUNAR NEW YEAR: The nation is expecting 4,200 international travelers to arrive today and 3,900 tomorrow, as people return home for the holidays, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said it expects imported cases of COVID-19 to further increase today and tomorrow — the peak period for international arrivals before the Lunar New Year holiday. The nation has seen more imported cases of COVID-19 since it implemented a new policy on Tuesday requiring travelers on long-haul flights to undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival. Those who test positive are taken directly to hospitals from airports. Most of the recent confirmed cases of COVID-19 were travelers arriving from the US, CECC data showed. On Tuesday, 58 of the 625 travelers arriving at Taiwan