F-16s for Taiwan, Dialogue for China

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Photo/Flickr: DVIDSHUB
Taiwan has an “urgent” need for a new fleet of F-16s, at least according to Senator Richard Lugar. On April 1, he wrote a letter to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton warning that “Taiwan has legitimate defense needs and its existing capabilities are decaying.” A National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) assessment submitted in February of 2010 agreed that Taiwan’s ability to “deny the People’s Republic of China (PRC) air superiority” was diminishing. Nonetheless, Senator Lugar’s call for further arms sales to Taiwan should be put into the broader framework of America’s strategic relations with the “two Chinas.”
Last January, the United States approved an arms deal with Taiwan totaling some $6.4 billion in weapons and training. In response, the PRC froze military to military relations with the US and cut off defense talks. When the US announced a $6 billion plus weapons sale to Taiwan in October of 2008, the PRC reacted the same way.
This is both dangerous and foolish. But it should not be unexpected.
China’s defense ministry has been preoccupied for much of the past 30 years with the task of modernization. Over the past decade, however, this burden has begun to ease. China’s military leadership and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been able to shift its focus and play a much more aggressive and assertive role in shaping China’s foreign policy.
Moreover, the United States has not been entirely clear when dealing with the issue of Taiwan. Official statements about Taiwan are carefully worded both to avoid recognizing Beijing’s claim to the island and to avoid rejecting it and risking retaliation.
If the status quo is acceptable for the US, then nothing needs to change. Arms sales to Taiwan can continue to cause a dangerous silence a between the American and Chinese militaries. But if the US wants to have more constructive and nuanced relations with the PRC, then it needs to learn to decouple Taiwan from other issues–especially regular military to military communications. In this effort we can follow the PRC’s example. China has had great success in isolating human rights from economic relations in its bilateral negotiations.
As Senator Lugar and others begin to increase pressure for another arms deal with Taiwan, the prospect for another military-relations freeze is growing. But it doesn’t have to be. On Monday, the US and China held the seventh working-level meeting of their defense ministries in Beijing. If they are really interested in national security, they’ll consider talking even when their politicians won’t.
– Jordan D’Amato

Comments

8 comments on “F-16s for Taiwan, Dialogue for China

  1. Warren Metzler says:

    I don’t know who Jordan D’Amato is, but he sure is one of the participants in dialogues in this country that are insane. He deserves the Dick Cheney award of the year.
    “But if the US wants to have more constructive and nuanced relations with the PRC, then it needs to learn to decouple Taiwan from other issues–especially regular military to military communications. In this effort we can follow the PRC’s example. China has had great success in isolating human rights from economic relations in its bilateral negotiations.”
    What he is writing about is not at all being constructive or nuanced. But being evil, stupid, oppressive and insane. There is a saying, “real friends tell you the truth”. It is high time our government realizes that having policies that promote freedom, equality, rights, real democracy, and so forth, is the key to success; and stop our several decade now gradual slide into relative, vacuous destruction.
    Why is it not recognized that China is a still a communist oppressive society? Why is that some official isn’t quoting Reagan, “Party members tear down your oppressive actions”. It is only a matter of time before China has the same decline as Japan has had since the 1990′s, which was due to trying to have economic success while retaining a very personally oppressive society. The same thing will happen in the not too distant future in China. And I predict it will be one of the countries who will have an Asian Spring, not long after the Arab Spring completes its world wide infective process.

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  2. Jay C says:

    Might not the prospect of a Chinese “walkout” on defense talks a lot be a lot less dire than meets the eye? While you are right about the Taiwan issue being (or having, at the least, the potential to be) a chronic sore-point in US-Chinese relations, isn’t the typical pattern in these flaps more like:
    1) US and China engage in talks.
    2) Some Taiwan-related issue erupts.
    3) Chinese get ticked and storm out.
    4) US-Chinese talks resume (quietly) some time later.
    Is this latest to-do likely to be any different?

    Reply

  3. questions says:

    Simply THE best take on education reform as is currently practiced.
    Read every chart carefully!
    http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/a-trip-to-the-reformy-education-research-association/

    Reply

  4. questions says:

    Obamabot am I.
    Speech good.
    Hope they don’t overly frontload the cuts.
    He defended a liberal social welfare state. He trashed libertarianism.
    He defended collective action. He defended investment to WTF. He noted people will hate on him. He made the base happy. He was rational. He might well have made the indies happy. He was rational. Even Krugman is not exploding. He made the base happy.
    He is both cutting and not cutting.
    All in a day’s work.
    The entire kos site is happy and sending money to Obama’s reelection campaign.
    And they are not very kind in tone towards Ryan for some reason or other.
    Google “Sad Keanu” image search. That one came up. Kinda funny.

    Reply

  5. Don Bacon says:

    J.D.: “Official statements about Taiwan are carefully worded both to avoid recognizing Beijing’s claim to the island and to avoid rejecting it and risking retaliation.”
    Actually U.S. official statements have been clear — Taiwan is part of China. But there’s so much money to be made selling military stuff even though selling military gear to a breakaway province of another country is bound to anger that country, and understandably so.
    from the U.S. State Department:
    U.S.-TAIWAN RELATIONS
    On January 1, 1979, the United States changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. In the U.S.-P.R.C. Joint Communiqu

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  6. John Waring says:

    China has roughly three times the population of the United States.
    Of the four countries leading the world in the production of steel, China produces more than the other three combined.
    If push ever comes to shove, China will have its way.
    So why are we selling arms to Taiwan? At this point I question the need for strategic ambiguity.
    Perhaps some problems are not ours to solve.

    Reply

  7. non-hater says:

    Does the Chinese leadership realize they look like clowns whenever they throw temper tantrums like this? It’s ridiculous. Even in the depths of the Cold War the Soviet Union’s leaders never acted quite so silly.

    Reply

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