US’ Mitt Romney says Asia-Pacific alliances are key

By Nadia Tsao and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter in Washington, with staff writer

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 - Page 1

US Republican presumptive presidential candidate Mitt Romney says the US should provide Taiwan with adequate aircraft and other military platforms, and increase collaboration with Taiwan and close Asian allies to ensure peace, stability and freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In the face of China’s accelerated military buildup, the US and our allies must maintain appropriate military capabilities to discourage any aggressive or coercive behavior by China against its neighbors,” Romney said in a recent statement issued on his campaign Web site.

The White House hopeful said that his proposal to maintain a strong military presence in the Pacific was not an invitation to regional conflict, adding that the move was rather “a guarantor of a region where trade routes are open, and East Asia’s community of nations remains secure and prosperous.”

Pointing out a pressing need for the US to maintain and expand its naval presence in the Western Pacific, Romney called on his country to lend a helping hand to partners that are seeking to bolster their defensive capabilities.

“We should be assisting partners that require help to enhance their defensive capabilities. The [US] Department of Defense should reconsider recent decisions not to sell top-of-the-line equipment to our closest Asian allies,” Romney said.

To uphold that goal, the Republican said the US should supply Taiwan with “adequate aircraft and other military platforms” in accordance with its military needs by ensuring a better coordination between the two allies.

In addition, the US should also assist Pacific nations to reinforce maritime domain awareness, Romney said, such as “the ability to employ radar and other detection networks to monitor aggressive behavior in disputed waters.”

“This would minimize the chance of surprise confrontations and prevent military miscalculations that can escalate into larger conflicts,” he said.

The presidential hopeful also stressed the importance of fortifying alliances and relations with US regional partners, saying the nation should not only push ahead with bilateral ties with all these countries, but also encourage enhanced cooperation among them.

The US’ objective is not to establish an anti-China alliance, he said, but rather to consolidate collaboration with countries that share mutual interests and ambitions.

“Our objective is not to build an anti-China coalition. Rather, it is to strengthen cooperation among countries with which we share a concern about China’s growing power and increasing assertiveness, and with whom we also share an interest in maintaining freedom of navigation and ensuring that disputes over resources are resolved by peaceful means,” Romney said.

It is yet another way of closing off China’s option of expanding its influence through coercion, he said.