Sun, Oct 07, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Pence’s words may bring more US military links

By Lo Tien-pin  /  Staff reporter

The aircraft carrier Liaoning, center, takes part in exercises in the South China Sea on April 12.

Photo: AP

The US might propose military cooperation with Taiwan, a military official said, citing US Vice President Mike Pence’s harsh criticism of China.

In remarks delivered on Thursday at the Hudson Institute on US policy regarding China, Pence criticized Beijing, saying it is threatening stability across the Taiwan Strait and is using economic aggression to extend its global reach.

The official, who declined to be named, said that Pence’s criticism of China was an assurance to US allies in the Western Pacific that Washington would continue to maintain security in the region.

It is likely that concrete and substantial US action would follow, the official said.

The action is likely to take the form of military exchanges, probably on an unprecedented scale, “exceeding Taiwan’s expectations,” the official said.

US President Donald Trump on Aug. 13 signed the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which contains provisions favorable to Taiwan’s defense.

The legislation says that the US should bolster defense and security cooperation with Taiwan; support the nation’s acquisition of defensive weapons through foreign military sales, direct commercial sales and industrial cooperation; and improve the predictability of arms sales to Taiwan by ensuring timely review of and response to requests for defense articles and services.

The legislation also suggests that the US secretary of defense send a hospital ship to Taiwan as part of the annual Pacific Partnership mission to improve disaster response planning and preparedness.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Sept. 24 said that the US Department of State had approved a proposal to sell US$330 million in arms to Taiwan to upgrade the nation’s defense capabilities.

The sale is to cover standard spare parts, as well as the repair or replacement of spare parts for Republic of China Air Force aircraft, such as its General Dynamics F-16s, Lockheed C-130s, Northrop F-5s, and Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (漢翔航空工業) Indigenous Defense Fighters.

The military official cited CNN reports as saying that the US plans a show of force next month in areas near Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

If true, such a move would be in line with the intent of Pence’s speech, the official said.

The plans would not only serve as a warning to Beijing, but also as a message that Chinese efforts to prevent the US from aiding its allies in the Western Pacific are doomed to fail, the official said, quoting Pence.

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