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U.S. Presses Forward on Plans to Sell Arms to Taiwan

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I find it hard to understand the global conflicts developing as the United States continues to press to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Taiwan. This sale is a continuation of the American policy of supplying military hardware to this Island nation, which lies a short distance from China, across the Taiwan Strait. Items included in the sale are 60 Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot missile systems, 12 advanced Harpoon missiles, and two Osprey mine-hunting ships. Firms involved are Boeing, including its Raytheon unit, United Technologies, and Lockheed Martin.

The sale is in line with The Taiwan Relations Act which requires the U.S. to provide Taiwan weapons for defense. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, following a civil war in 1949 in which Communist forces overpowered Chiang Kai-shek’s nationalists who fled to the island. China has vowed to reunite mainland China with Taiwan, with force if necessary, while the U.S. has said it will protect Taiwan.

But wait! We read optimistic reports that Taiwan and China are enjoying increasingly good relations with one another. Longstanding trade tariffs have been lifted and commerce between the nations is much improved. The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) between trade representatives from mainland China and Taiwan was signed in late June, and negotiators spoke of a new era in ties across the Taiwan Strait. The nations formulated a 16-part act to “..gradually reduce and remove trade and investment barriers and create a fair environment.” That same agreement calls for the nations to “respect each other’s intellectual property.”

China, as does the United States, sees itself as second to none in the world, as a 21st century visionary nation. Tourism between the U.S. and China, as well as international sports events such as the Olympics and modern communication such as the Internet, have all contributed to improved relations between China and the U.S. We still have differences. The U.S. supports sanctions being applied to Iran in connection to the Iranian nuclear policy. China would disallow these sanctions. The United States has ongoing hostility with North Korea, whom we view as aggressive, and as a potential nuclear threat. China tends to favor North Korea, as does Russia. Simply stated, it seems wise and diplomatic for the United States to continue seeking a bond with China.

On January 31 this year, The New York Times published articles indicating that the Chinese government had announced an unusually broad range of retaliatory measures in response to the proposed weapon sale to Taiwan. These retaliatory measures would include, The Times pointed out, sanctions against American companies that would supply the arms for sale to Taiwan. Further, Beijing canceled important military exchange programs. The U.S. ambassador was called in by Chinese vice-foreign minister He Yafei to protest the sales. A planned visit to China by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in June was canceled; Gates took the position that The Peoples Liberation Army (the PLA) was “reluctant to engage in defense issues.” Gates suggested a rift between Chinese civilian and military leaders.

The China Daily accused the U.S. of gross interference in China’s internal affairs, of undermining China’s national security and reunification, and of “casting a long shadow” on Sino-U.S. relations. They said that no nation can “sit idle” while its national security is endangered, and its core interests damaged.

China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. China has increasing importance in the global economy. President Obama has expressed concern over the Chinese view on civil rights. Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao had scheduled a meeting to discuss civil rights in November; that meeting is now in jeopardy. The Global Times made the statement that the arms sales to Taiwan will most likely continue regardless of who occupies the White House. They go on to say, “It’s time the U.S. was made to feel the heat for the continuing arms sales to Taiwan.”

The Taipei Times addresses some related issues. The article criticizes United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks that we are opposed to any country attempting to back up a claim of sovereignty with military force. Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi called Clinton’s speech an attack on China, and took offense at what he called the U.S.’s biased position. Obama attempted to mollify the damage in a speech stressing that the U.S. is not trying to contain China, and on the contrary, China’s rise is helpful to the international economy and security.

I question whether we are obligated to sell arms for Taiwanese defense at a time when they have no enemies, no threat of military encounter.

Author’s note: Since preparing this article, I have become aware of some new aspects of the weapons sale proposed. The list of requested weapons came from President Ma Ying-jeou; this list involves torpedoes, tanks, amphibious landing vehicles, and more. No submarines nor fighter aircraft are scheduled for transfer.

Although acknowledging an easing of tensions, the Taiwanese president sites the refusal of Beijing to rule out force, should Taiwan declare formal independence. It is stated that China has 1400 missiles aimed at Taiwan.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • tom

    America is the biggest threat for peace around the world.

  • americanterrorists

    americans are terrorist, they are the ones de-stablizing the world just to make money out of war. and try to control all the resources in the world, and because is stepping up the game they cant handle it. now they are like a little baby crying and sulking! grow up and face reality american terrorists!!

  • Taiwan Tracker

    As usual with most American pundits, they see the situation in Asia opaquely. The influence of the propaganda from China as it is expressed cooperatively through multinational corporations and the media they possess, clouds the real issues occurring in China and Taiwan.

    China is too often portrayed as the aggrieved and outraged victim, and the media makes us all think we should rush to their fainting couch and apply a cold cloth. Truth is, China is rebuilding its historical pre-communist empire (this writer doesn’t mention China’s several aggressive claims on lands and seas of its neighbors or international territories–not just Taiwan).

    China has an aggressive, military posture not only towards Taiwan, but also India and in the South China Sea, which it now has claimed as part of its territory. There are also several tiny islands that are in dispute–none belonging originally to China–all of which may be sources of natural gas and oil.

    The US, too, has its interests and postures, and we all should look at the US-China and the China-Taiwan relationships as they really are. Despite the media’s insistence on “warming ties” or “improved diplomatic relations” the truth of the matter is that there are geo-political forces at play under the surface of interntional media representation that cannot sustain the status quo. Something’s going to snap, and it will happen sooner than later.

  • LOL

    If China is evil and aggressive, then what is the United States?

    Satan himself?

  • china is evil

    China has around 1500-2000 missiles pointed at Taiwan, threatened to use military force time and time again, and passed an Anti-Secession law. Taiwan’s only enemy is China.

    I don’t understand how this article can say Taiwan doesn’t have an enemy…

    23 million Taiwanese people could be killed by Communist missiles anyday. Taiwan has not asked the US for to fight China, Taiwan just wants to buy weapons from the US to protect the 23 million people who practice democracy and support human rights, the same values Americans support.

  • John Lake

    I appreciate these comments. They are insightful and informative.

  • Tuan Nguyen

    I think the author seriously lacks an understanding of China history and reality on the ground. with more than 1000 war head pointing at Taiwan and he says there is “no threat of military encounter” (sic).

    China made clear that i will use force if needed to bring Taiwan back to its fold.
    Taiwan has experimented a prosperuous econnomic growth and relative stable democracy because of the continued arms sales from US. That will make China think twice before attacking.

    I feel the author doe snot have the right level of expertise to discuss this issue so I stop here.


  • John Lake

    I claim no expertise on the subject matter, beyond what I can derive from moderate research. I based most of my conjecture on the statement, by China, that it “..does not rule out the use of force, should Taiwan
    declare formal independence.” Since such declaration of independence seems unlikely, there appears to be no potential for force.