Thu, Oct 06, 2011 - Page 1 News List

US mulling new arms sales to Taiwan

FOX IN THE HENHOUSE:US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen accused the Obama administration of ‘cozying up to Beijing with a wink and a nod’ on arms sales to Taiwan

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington, with REUTERS

“Taiwan needs our help. China is on the march in Asia and its primary target remains democratic Taiwan,” she said. “Why must Taiwan depend on rickety old aircraft, provided almost 20 years ago, to face state-of-the-art Chinese fighters? ... And Taiwan equally needs diesel[-electric] submarines to protect her territorial waters — and she needs them now.”

The chairman called for a reinvigorated policy toward Taiwan, including senior-level official visits, a free-trade agreement and, as soon as all homeland security criteria are met, early admission to the US’ visa-waiver program.

Campbell said that despite improvements in cross-strait relations, there was still a significant risk of instability and conflict.

He acknowledged that some believe the administration’s efforts to build a “positive, cooperative and comprehensive” relationship with China would come at the expense of Taiwan.

“We categorically reject this assertion,” he said. “Positive and constructive relations with China are not only consistent with our robust and diverse relationship with Taiwan, they are also mutually supporting.”

With the latest US arms sales to Taiwan — especially the proposed upgrading of Taiwan’s aging fleet of F-16A/B jets — he insisted that Taiwan would be able to “resist intimidation and coercion, and engage with the mainland with continued confidence.”

Nevertheless, he admitted that Washington had “strong concerns” about Chinese military modernization and deployments.

The buildup of missiles targeting Taiwan “contradict Beijing’s stated commitment to the peaceful handling of cross-strait relations,” he said, adding that China needed to carefully consider whether its vast military capabilities aimed at Taiwan served to build trust.

Lavoy said Beijing’s long-term strategy seemed to be to use political, diplomatic, economic and cultural levers to pursue unification with Taiwan, while building the military capability to attack it.

“Beijing appears prepared to defer the use of force for as long as it believes long-term unification remains possible,” he said.

Republican Representative Dan Burton said the US continues to “piddle around,” while not giving Taiwan the support it needs to defend itself. He said it was “totally unacceptable” for the Obama administration to refuse to sell Taiwan the F-16C/Ds and diesel-electric submarines it needed.

Representative after representative condemned the administration for not selling the long-requested and “desperately needed” F-16C/Ds and submarines.

Quoting Defense News and the Taipei Times, Ros-Lehtinen said there were concerns that senior administration officials had discussed arms sales to Taiwan with China prior to deciding not to sell the F-16C/Ds.

Campbell said he had been in hundreds of meetings with Chinese officials and that he had “never ever” heard a US official give China notice of arms sales to Taiwan.

Republican Representative Bill Johnson asked Campbell about a recent report in the Financial Times that a senior administration official had made unflattering remarks about Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), making it appear as if the US administration was interfering in Taiwan’s democratic elections.

Campbell pledged the US would not interfere in any way in the upcoming elections in Taiwan, that the US did not take sides and that the US would work closely with whoever was elected.

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