The US should maintain its current policy on security ties with Taiwan, which includes upgrading its F-16 aircraft and conducting future arms sales, a visiting US academic said yesterday.
Missouri State University political science professor Dennis Hickey said the US’ current policy has led to a program to retrofit Taiwan’s F-16A/B fleet, the sale of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles and the potential sale of weapons and aircraft such as F-16C/Ds.
Compared with “extreme” arguments advocating cutting off US arms sales or massively increasing arms sales to Taiwan, the current policy “makes the most sense,” Hickey said.
China seems “to be able to live with the current policy,” he added.
Hickey, who will stay in Taiwan throughout the week, is scheduled to deliver a paper on US arms sales to Taiwan at a conference held by Academia Sinica to mark the 30th anniversary of a communique signed by the US and China in 1982.
The joint communique states that the US intends to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan and the Chinese government promises to strive for a peaceful resolution of outstanding differences with Taiwan.
Discussing options available for Washington in terms of arms sales to Taiwan, Hickey said terminating support for Taiwan was “outrageous” because Taiwan was an old friend of the US.
In 1979, when Washington and Taipei severed official ties, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act to oblige the US to help Taiwan defend itself.
“Cutting off Taiwan from weapons may actually embolden the mainland [China] to become more risky,” Hickey said.
He also dismissed the argument that Washington should sell Taipei highly advanced weaponry, such as the F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing fighter.
The F-35 will not be available for 10 years, he said, adding that Taiwan’s defense budget may not be enough to procure such expensive aircraft.