Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Arms sales will continue, US says

NO HESITANCYDavid Shear said US arms sales help give Taiwan confidence when it is negotiating with ‘the Chinese side’ and he wants to make sure Taipei feels secure

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

US Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Shear, the US State Department’s point man on China-Taiwan ties, speaks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Wednesday.

PHOTO: CNA

In a policy speech on Taiwan, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Shear has pledged that arms sales will continue, that there will be a new drive for better trade relations and that Washington will support Taipei in its push to play a greater role in world affairs.

Questioned about a perceived hesitancy by the US to sell new weapons, he said: “There is no hesitancy on the US’ part to sell arms to Taiwan. We made a US$6.4 billion notification to Capitol Hill at the end of January, which was a very important step and demonstrates our commitment to Taiwan’s security under the Taiwan Relations Act. I am concerned in ensuring that the Taiwan side feels secure and that the US side is fulfilling its commitments.”

“We are in constant touch with the authorities in Taiwan and we always hear their views as we consider what we are going to do about future possible arms sales,” he said as he delivered the keynote address at a Carnegie Endowment conference in Washington on cross-strait relations.

Pressed about China’s military superiority over Taiwan, he said: “We are always looking at the cross-strait military balance. We are always looking at Taiwan’s defensive needs. It is clear that Chinese deployments across the [Taiwan] Strait have not changed as much as the economic dialogue has and we are concerned about that.”

“We would like to see the ­Chinese consider more carefully the level and nature of their deployments across the Strait. But I think that President Ma [Ying-jeou (馬英九)] as his administration negotiates with his Chinese counterparts, can be assured of US support. That is one of the fundamental roles that US arms sales play in terms of giving confidence that the Taiwan side needs to negotiate effectively with the Chinese side,” he said.

Shear refused to speculate on the possibility that the US might help Taiwan develop its own missile systems, but he appeared to deny recent reports that the US has put a “freeze” on arms sales.

He said that US policy toward Taiwan was based on “a few simple principles.”

First, the US does not support independence; second, the US insists that cross-strait differences be resolved peacefully and according to the wishes of the people on both sides of the Strait; and third, the US welcomes active efforts on both sides to engage in a dialogue that reduces tensions and increases contacts of all kinds across the Strait.

Shear said the US was opposed to unilateral attempts by either side to change the status quo and was “fully committed” to making available to Taiwan “articles and services” necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient defense.

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