US General Wallace Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said that President Barack Obama’s administration “will not waver in its commitment to provide those defense articles and services necessary for Taiwan’s self-defense.”
But he stopped well short of telling the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, this week just what specific weapons systems would be offered.
Gregson didn’t mention the 66 F-16C/Ds that the Taiwanese military is anxious to buy from Washington. The closest he came to addressing the issue was to offer the generalized “commitment” promise.
“I’m sure many of you here tonight are quite eager to know more about what our administration considers to be the right tools for Taiwan,” he said.
Gregson, who went out of his way to emphasize the word “right,” said that he was not going to deal with the issue in detail.
“True and lasting security cannot be achieved simply by purchasing the next gleaming piece of advanced hardware. A defense strategy is most effectively implemented when you have the right tools. Taiwan’s defense strategy will therefore be most effective when its resource decisions are driven by a clear sense of its defense objectives and the most efficient means to achieve these objectives,” he said.
A senior military analyst in Washington said later that it was impossible to gauge from Gregson’s speech how the White House would handle Taiwan’s weapons requests.
On the one hand, Gregson seemed to be positive and ready to boost Taiwan’s military, but on the other he said nothing that might alarm Beijing ahead of Obama’s planned trip to China next month.
The analyst, who spoke on strict condition of anonymity, said that he did not expect any announcement on the F-16s before early next year.
The annual three-day meeting — organized by the lobby group US-Taiwan Business Council — focused on US-Taiwan defense and military cooperation and Taiwan’s defense and national security needs.
“A strong Taiwan will be less susceptible to coercion or intimidation and better able to engage the PRC [People’s Republic of China] with confidence. A strong Taiwan will be free to expand cross-strait economic, cultural and political ties without fear or reservation, and therefore everyone in the region — including the PRC — should view a strong Taiwan not as a threat but as a stabilizing force,” Gregson said.
“As a result of the PRC’s rapid economic growth and military modernization, Taiwan will never again have the luxury of relying on quantitative advantages over the PRC. Instead, Taiwan must look to its qualitative advantages through focusing on innovation and asymmetry,” he said.
“Taiwan should seek out new initiatives that will be more expensive for the PRC to defeat than they will be for Taiwan to employ. Asymmetry will not replace a layered defense or defeat PRC forces, but it can deter them from fully employing the advanced weapons they are developing and undermine their effectiveness,” he said.
General Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋), deputy minister of Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, told the conference that the only way to sustain the easing of cross-strait tension was to maintain defensive capabilities.
“We do have expectations for assistance that could be provided by friends and allies as new challenges that we have never faced before, [that will] emerge along with the many tasks of defense reform,” Chao said.
“Critical acquisitions, including F-16C/Ds, diesel submarines, utility helicopters, additional two units of PAC 111, could not be completed before the budgets expired, thus obstructing follow-on annual budgeting and policy implementation. I’m sure the officials in charge did not mean to see such a development,” he said.
NO FREE LUNCH: Taiwanese joining the trips to China met TAO and United Front Work officials who urged them to vote for candidates who support closer ties with Beijing The Ciaotou Prosecutors’ Office in Kaohsiung yesterday released two suspects on bail who have been accused of recruiting Taiwanese to join tours to China funded by Beijing and in which they were urged to vote for pan-blue candidates in January’s presidential and legislative elections. The pan-blue camp generally refers to the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the People First Party, the New Party and the Young China Party, which support closer relations with China. Prosecutors said that a man, surnamed Cheng (鄭), and a woman, surnamed Yeh (葉), who are members of the China Pan-Blue Association, recruited Taiwanese tourists to join tours arranged
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday slammed a proposal by New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, to permit a “significant number” of Chinese students to study and work in Taiwan, saying it would be detrimental to young Taiwanese. At an event on Monday hosted by nine major industrial and business groups, Hou said that if elected, he would reinitiate cross-strait dialogue on the premise that Taiwan’s dignity would not be compromised and that the talks would be held in good faith. The talks would include lifting a ban on Chinese tour groups and
PEACE AND STABILITY: ‘Taiwan can be of tremendous value’ in building resilient supply chains, President Tsai Ing-wen said, as she encouraged closer ties with foreign businesses A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely for the time being due to the internal challenges and international pressure that China is facing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told the New York Times in an interview shown on Wednesday. “My thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them [China] to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” Tsai said in a prerecorded interview for the DealBook Summit held by the newspaper on Wednesday. Beijing’s leadership is presently “overwhelmed by its internal challenges” on economic, financial and political grounds, while the international community “has made it loud and clear that war is
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,