Wed, Feb 27, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Business council chief pans lack of US commitment


If the Bush administration desires an end to Taiwan's development of indigenous missiles like the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) IIE, the US must be consistent in its commitment to Taiwan, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, in a special commentary piece in Defense News.

In the report, titled "Taiwan Goes it Alone," Hammond-Chambers said that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice presidential candidate Vincent Siew's (蕭萬長) visit to the US last October was an "opportunity missed" to communicate on military procurement.

Ideally, from the US point of view, Siew would have informed the Bush administration that after four years of obstruction, the KMT had reached consensus on arms sales, including the highly contentious Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles, he wrote.

"Instead, Siew was greeted by administration officials who lectured him about their concerns on President Chen Shui-bian's [陳水扁] referendum on joining the UN under the name Taiwan, as well as Taiwan's ongoing efforts on its counterstrike missile program," Hammond-Chambers wrote.

He said Taiwan's objective has always been to develop counterstrike weapons for tactical, not strategic, application in the event of a conflict with China.

"There are no Taiwan generals threatening to level Shanghai or Guangzhou," he said, adding that during talks with the US a few years back, Taiwanese military officials agreed to only use conventional armed weapons against military targets in response to a Chinese first strike and to do so only after receiving authorization.

He criticized the Bush administration for being an "irresponsible player" in cross-strait relations, saying Washington's view that a counter-strike capability for Taiwan would hurt US interests was wrong.

He argued that on the modern battlefield, it is nearly impossible to distinguish between an offensive and a defensive system, and "this fact alone makes the US objections specious, leading Americans to be viewed as hypocritical and pro-China at worst."

He said the situation between Beijing and Taipei might be assuaged if a KMT president is elected next month. But such a victory would not guarantee Taiwan's security because China will never accept anything less than complete integration of Taiwan into its jurisdiction -- a term that would definitely be unacceptable to most Taiwanese.

He concluded by saying if the US wants to deter Taiwan from developing indigenous missiles like the Hsiung Feng-IIE, Washington must remain consistently committed to Taiwan's security.

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