Washington sources told the Taipei Times that Wang Yi (王毅), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, left Washington “disappointed” following a meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg this week, during which he tried to persuade the US to end arms sales to Taiwan.
Two sources said Wang Yi argued that greatly improved relations across the Taiwan Strait meant that the chances of military confrontation were dramatically reduced and that Taiwan no longer needed to increase defenses, adding that if the US went ahead with the sales it would have a strong negative impact on China-US relations.
But the US side replied that China’s own military buildup and failure to reduce the large missile force Beijing has aimed at Taiwan did not give Washington much confidence in Wang’s argument.
One source said: “The US response was that: ‘We don’t arm Taiwan to turn it into an offensive threat, we arm Taiwan in response to the PLA force modernization and the threat it poses to Taiwan.’”
While the US did not reveal its plans for arms sales to Taiwan, it gave the clear impression that future sales were under serious consideration.
This meeting came as a new report from the Project 2049 Institute — a Washington-based think tank — said: “Over the next two to three months, senior non-Cabinet officials from Taiwan will come to the United States to discuss arms sales and a broad range of ties.”
The report says that while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is publicly prioritizing the procurement of US F-16 C/D fighter aircraft, “some lend credibility to the notion that there exists a lack of consistency between what the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] advocates in public and in private.”
It also said: “The Taiwanese should prepare for senior level defense meetings with the United States, even if they have limited time to discuss budgetary issues.”
“The United States DOD [Department of Defense] and DOS [Department of State] should work towards arriving at a consensus by this summer regarding Taiwan’s specific defense needs. It must also ascertain what the KMT administration is actually willing to purchase,” it said. “Having learned from the mistakes of the [former US president George W.] Bush administration, the [US President Barack] Obama administration is unlikely to expend political capital offering expensive and comprehensive weapons packages to the Taiwanese only to subsequently witness them balk at actually procuring the systems.”
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, head of the US-Taiwan Business Council in Washington, stressed that the timeline for arms sales would be affected by other issues.
There will be no significant developments until the Senate confirms Kurt Campbell as the Obama administration’s new assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs. That will probably happen in the next two weeks, and when it does he will run the weapons sales program and become the “key guy,” he said.
Through next month and August, Campbell and his team will assess where they stand with present programs and develop a recommendation on selling F-16s.
That recommendation will go to the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House in early September, but Obama is unlikely to make a decision and send it forward for Congressional approval until he returns from a planned trip to China, he said.
Insiders say the trip will probably take place in mid-November and the proposed arms sales will then go to Congress for approval in late November or early December.
Washington sources said that Taiwan would likely be offered the helicopters and the F-16s it wants, but that it was unlikely a submarine package would be worked out this year.
TAIWAN PROTECTION MEASURE: US Army General Charles Flynn would not say where in the Asia-Pacific the missiles would be sent, but only that they would arrive in 2024 The US is to send medium-range missiles including the Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) and Tomahawk to the Asia-Pacific next year to deter a Chinese attack on Taiwan, US military news Web site Defense One reported. The report cited comments US Army General Charles Flynn made during the annual Halifax International Security Forum on Nov. 19. “We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn was quoted as saying. “In 24. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will
UNUSUAL UPTICK: There are more flu-like illnesses in northern China than in the past 3 years, but data from Beijing showed that known pathogens are responsible Responding to an uptick in respiratory illnesses in China, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said it has instructed international airport and port quarantine centers to raise their alert levels, and plans to issue an alert to healthcare practitioners. The number of flu-like illnesses reported in northern China has been increasing for five consecutive weeks, and is higher than the same period in the past three years, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said. “According to the WHO’s latest statement, issued yesterday, information provided by Chinese government showed that the illnesses were mainly reported among children, and the illnesses were attributed
LOYALTY: The 10 active and retired soldiers betrayed the nation and its people by leaking and passing on military secrets to China, the High Prosecutors’ Office said Ten former and current military officers were yesterday indicted on charges of spying for China, including two who allegedly filmed themselves pledging loyalty to Beijing. The High Prosecutors’ Office requested life imprisonment for the suspects in light of the severity of the crime. The 10 active-duty and retired officers included members of the 601st Brigade of the Aviation Special Forces comprising attack helicopter squadrons and elite combat units in charge of defending northern Taiwan, including Taipei. The other suspects came from Huadong Defense Command, in charge of defending the eastern coast; Kinmen Defense Command, in charge of defending Kinmen and Matsu; and one
LOCAL INDUSTRY SAFE: Despite global expansion plans, 90% of Taiwanese IC suppliers’ production would stay in Taiwan, the National Development Council minister said Taiwan’s semiconductor firms are expected to invest US$210 billion over the next five years to cement the country’s lead over its peers in the global IC market, National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said on Friday. Digital transformation in the high-tech sector had become an irreversible international trend, Kung told an investment forum on business start-ups. The government would continue to encourage the local semiconductor industry to invest by providing incentives under the Statute for Industrial Innovation (產業創新條例), Kung said. Taiwanese semiconductor firms are expected to move their investments out of the China due to a restructuring of global supply chains amid