The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday expressed concerns over reported dialogue between Beijing and Washington about US arms sales to Taiwan, saying that the institutionalized bilateral discussion would be detrimental to Taiwan’s interests.
Guan Youfei (關友飛), director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China’s Ministry of National Defense, was quoted by Chinese media as saying that Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan (常萬全) offered to “adjust Beijing’s military deployment in exchange for Washington stopping its arms sales to Taiwan” during a meeting with US Defense Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
By adjusting military deployments, Chang was believed to be referring to China’s removal of the more than 1,500 missiles targeted at Taiwan.
“[The initiative] was not new, as China had raised the issue several times before. What surprised us was the substantial discussion between China and the US on the arms sale issue, which was never before included in the bilateral dialogue,” said Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), the DPP representative to the US and executive director of the party’s Policy Research Committee.
The DPP was especially concerned about talk of establishing a joint task force as an institutionalized mechanism to deal with various issues, including US arms sales to Taiwan, Wu said.
US defense officials and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs both denied that US arms sales had been an issue in the US-China dialogue, but Wu urged the government to seek reassurance from Washington that it would not consult with the Chinese on its arms sales to Taiwan in the future.
If Beijing and Washington did raise the issue in their defense talks, the level of conversation had gone beyond past bilateral dialogues, Wu said.
A US-China deal would be a violation of the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the US to provide Taiwan with “arms of a defensive character,” and the “six assurances” made by the administration of former US president Ronald Reagan in 1982, which pledged not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan and not to set a date for ending arms sales, he said.
If Beijing is serious about extending its goodwill to Taiwan, it “might as well renounce the use of force against Taiwan rather than using the ambiguous term ‘adjusting military deployment,’” Wu said.
Wu, who has served as Taiwan’s representative to the US and Mainland Affairs Council minister, called on President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to work on strengthening Taiwan’s national defense.
Ma has failed to deliver on his campaign pledge for a defense budget of at least 3 percent of GDP, he said.
With the defense budget now at 2.1 percent of GDP, the implementation of an all-volunteer military and funding for future arms procurements in question, the already low morale in the military could be further jeopardized, Wu said.