US President Joe Biden’s administration is considering ways to jointly manufacture arms with Taiwan either through US arms manufacturers providing Taiwan with the technology or Taiwan-made components being assembled in the US. Recent reports have said that arms deliveries from the US to Taiwan would be delayed. That could be a sign of a dramatic shift from “US-standard, US-made” to “US-standard, Taiwan-made” weapons.
US support for Taiwan has been conditioned by its relations with China. When China takes a peaceful attitude, the US pays less attention to Taiwan’s military power. When China is aggressive, the US acts accordingly, contributing to Taiwan’s defense capability based on existing acts.
In the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, Section 2 specifies that “the US decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.”
The implication is clear: A Chinese invasion of Taiwan means a declaration of war against the US, and an end to US-China relations.
Section 3 is the key to Taiwan’s arms industry: “The US will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and Aerospace Industrial Development Corp have developed F-16V and Indigenous Defense Fighter jets and other weapons.
China has focused on the 1982 Sino-US joint communique, particularly the following: Arms sales to Taiwan from the US “will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US,” and the US would “reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.” However, it has conveniently forgotten then-National People’s Congress chairman Ye Jianying’s (葉劍英) 1981 “nine points,” with its promises of a peaceful China.
Furthermore, then-US president Ronald Reagan said: “Any agreement we reach with Beijing will be predicated on a continuation of Beijing’s peaceful intentions toward Taiwan,” and “it is essential that the quantity and quality of the arms provided [to] Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed” by China.
That is, once Beijing resorts to the use of force, the US does not have to keep its word.
In 2005, China’s “Anti-Secession” Law was enacted. Article 8 states that China shall use non-peaceful and other necessary means to defend its sovereignty and territory. Furthermore, at the opening of the 20th National Congress, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said: “We will never promise to give up the use of force, and reserve the right to take all necessary measures.”
In September 2017, the American Institute in Taiwan discussed with Taiwanese firms ways to supply food, fresh water and household goods to US vessels, which was sanctioned by the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018. Section 1259 of the report said that the US secretary of defense is to report on “the feasibility and advisability of the US Navy making port calls to Taiwan.” Since 2018, the successful bidder in Taiwan has started supplying US vessels around Kaohsiung’s Second Port to Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球). Around the same time, a US Navy research vessel also berthed in Kaohsiung Port’s Wharf No. 9.
The mode of manufacturing arms should be changed to “US-standard, Taiwan-made,” and its development deserves great attention.
HoonTing is a political commentator.
Translated by Liu Yi-hung
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