US gives Taiwan assurances on Biden China trip

WAR BY OTHER MEANS::An editorial in the ‘People’s Daily’ criticized the US for ignoring core key Chinese interests and discussed how that might be changed

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Tue, Aug 09, 2011 - Page 1

The US has assured Taiwan that its arms sale policy will not be discussed during US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to China next week, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) said yesterday.

Reports last month speculated that Biden was to inform Beijing during his visit that the administration of US President Barack Obama had decided to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16A/B aircraft, while refusing to sell it the more advanced F-16C/Ds requested by Taipei.

Biden’s visit to the region beginning on Tuesday will also take him to Mongolia and Japan.

Taiwan has learned from the US government, through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US and the America Institute in Taiwan, that Biden will not touch upon arms sale issue during his visit, Yang said.

ASSURANCES

Among the “Six Assurances” that were made to Taiwan by the administration of former US president Ronald Reagan in 1982, following the US-China “817 Communique” that limits US arms sales to Taiwan, the US promised it would not set a date for termination of arms sale to Taiwan and would not consult China before making a decision about arms sales to Taiwan.

“So far, the US has not only repeatedly reaffirmed the two promises, it has completely lived up to its word,” Yang said.

In a press statement on Friday, the White House said Biden would meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) to consult on a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues, and would also visit Chengdu in Sichuan Province.

The visit by Biden is at the invitation of Xi as part of planned reciprocal visits by the nations’ top deputy leaders announced earlier this year, it said.

Yang said the US had said it would respect the ministry’s request to be abreast of developments by briefing Taiwanese officials on Biden’s visit to China before and after the trip.

In related news, the People’s Daily yesterday published an article by senior editor Ding Gang (丁剛), in which he wrote: “It’s time for China to use its ‘financial weapon’ to teach the US a lesson if it moves forward with a plan to sell weapons to Taiwan.”

Ding said that the US Congress “has totally ignored China’s core interests,” with 181 members of the US House of Representatives sending a letter to president Obama to push for the sale of 66 F-16 C/Ds one day after the House passed a deal on raising the debt ceiling.

The US Treasury obtained authorization to issue US$400 billion in new debt after the US Senate passed the debt ceiling bill on Aug. 2, which was then signed into law by Obama, Ding said.

“Despite knowing that major creditor countries, especially China, would be the main buyers of its new debt, certain arrogant and disrespectful US Congress members have totally ignored China’s core interests by pressuring the president to sell advanced jets and even an arms upgrade package to Taiwan,” Ding wrote.

He said US arms sales to Taiwan would create more jobs for the US, but could not enhance the capability of Taiwan’s military to enable it to compete with China.

“The essence of the problem is that some US Congress members hold a contemptuous attitude toward the core interests of China, which shows that they will never respect China. China-US relations will always be constrained by these people and will continue to follow a roller coaster pattern if China does not beat them until they feel the pain,” he said.

Stopping or massively reducing US Treasury bond purchases would cause China to incur a certain degree of pain, Ding said, but China must try to minimize the loss and seek to be more active in dealing with the situation.

China should consider how it can establish a direct link between US Treasury bond purchases and US domestic politics, while adopting measures to gradually adjust the structure of China’s foreign exchange reserves, he said.

“For example, China could directly link the amount of US Treasury holdings with US arms sales to Taiwan and require international credit rating agencies to demote US Treasuries to force the US to raise interest rates. China could also launch limited trade sanctions against the states of those US Congress members who vigorously advocate arms sales to Taiwan to impact employment in those areas,” Ding wrote.

Ding said China was not willing to arbitrarily use US Treasury holdings as a weapon.

“However, China has no choice but to use it as a weapon to defend itself when facing threats to Chinese sovereignty,” he wrote.

State-run media yesterday also argued that the US should rethink its huge military outlays, big footprint abroad and summon the courage to defuse debt woes.

Commentaries said that the economic troubles facing the US and EU grew out of the basic political dysfunctions of Western democracies and their unsustainable appetite for spending.

Xinhua news agency also linked the weekend US debt downgrade to another Chinese complaint: US military spending, which Beijing sees as aimed at frustrating China’s rise.

“Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States, as the world’s sole superpower, has relied on its powerful military to meddle everywhere in international affairs, advancing hegemonism and paying no heed to whether the economy can support this,” said a commentary issued by Xinhua, which noted the heavy bills for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Now is the right time for the United States, trapped in economic hardship, to reflect on its -domineering thinking and deeds,” Xinhua said, urging Washington to “change its policies of interference abroad.”

Such media comments do not amount to a definitive response from China’s top leaders, who are likely to tread a more careful public line, knowing that their comments could stoke market alarm and a political backlash in the US.

Officials have been mute about the blow to Washington after Standard and Poor’s stripped the US of its top-tier “AAA” credit rating. However, media have decried the potential damage to China’s economic growth and huge holdings of US treasury assets.

Additional reporting by Reuters