Taiwan is paying close attention to negotiations in the lead-up to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) among UN member countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, amid worries expressed by academics that the treaty could make it difficult for Taiwan to purchase weapons from the US.
Taiwan is aware of the proposed UN weapons agreement and will keep abreast of developments, Lily Hsu (徐儷文), head of the ministry’s Department of International Organizations, said at a press conference.
“The ministry is looking into the matter and will ask its de-facto embassies to collect relevant information,” she said.
The UN started paying close attention to the global weapons trade in 2006 in light of poor regulations and standards. The ATT was proposed in an effort to ensure that armaments are transferred for appropriate use. Negotiations on the treaty are to be held in New York from July 2 to July 22.
In a report published last week, researchers at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation said that if it is successful, the treaty would hinder Taiwan’s right to purchase or import arms because it is not a UN member state.
“The ATT thus provides the basis for a Chinese argument that US sales of arms to Taiwan would circumvent the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] import control system, violate China’s territorial integrity and thus violate the treaty,” the paper said.
Providing Taiwan with defensive weapons is a long-standing policy of the US under its Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the “six assurances.”
The TRA, enacted in 1979 when Washington decided to sever formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, obliges the US to help Taiwan defend itself. In 1982, then-US president Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan “six assurances,” which included a promise that the US would not set a date for the termination of arms sales to Taiwan.