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Wenweipo, Hong Kong

Effective Weapons against
Arms Sales to Taiwan

By Zhang Haixiang

... since the U.S. uses regular arms sales to Taiwan as a strategic policy to contain China, each time it does so, China can retaliate on the basis of international law and support the U.S.’ sensitive rivals with cheap 'Made-in-China' weapons or related technology.

Translated By Yipeng Xie

30 September 2011

Edited by Amy Wong

Hong Kong - Wenweipo - Original Article (Chinese)

Although China expressed firm opposition, the U.S. government still submitted Congressional notifications on Sept. 21 on the decision to upgrade Taiwan’s 145 F-16A/B fighter aircraft in an arms deal that includes pilot training, logistics support, and related materials totaling $5.85 billion. According to statistics, since Obama’s election in 2008, U.S. government arms sales to Taiwan have reached $12.2 billion, exceeding the total amount of arms sales to Taiwan since China and the U.S. established official diplomatic relations. Although not the main component, regular arms sales to Taiwan are considered to be part of the U.S. strategy to contain China in the Asia-Pacific region for two reasons.

The U.S. Is Concerned that the Chinese People Will Unite

First, since Ma Ying-jeou became the president of Taiwan, Taiwan has built a close trading relationship with mainland China; this has caused the U.S. to lose its confidence in Taiwan’s politics and army. Therefore, the U.S. and Japanese armies, in the last several years, have actively pushed forward plans for a military facility to enhance security in Yonaguni Island — situated only 110 kilometers away from the east coast of Taiwan. The purpose is to guard against further peaceful developments between China and Taiwan. To the U.S. and Japan, the “first island chain” which includes Taiwan, will lose its effectiveness [as a defense perimeter] if Taiwan allies itself closer to mainland China.

Second, the U.S. is most afraid of seeing Taiwan and China grow closer through their economic cooperation. Even Cai Yingwen of the Democratic Progressive Party claimed recently, while campaigning for the 2012 Taiwan presidential elections, that once DPP is in power, it will accept the reality of Taiwan’s economic ties with mainland China. This trend shocks the U.S., which has always hoped to maintain the hostile relationship between Taiwan and mainland China. Based on these two points, the U.S. has put Taiwan in a secondary position in the strategic plan to contain China.

Even though Taiwan can enhance its weapons with assistance from U.S. arms sales for a period of time, it doesn’t seem to have the ability to achieve some Taiwanese politicians’ so-called “Taiwan independence idea.” Think about this: If economic integration had not occurred between Taiwan and mainland China, and Taiwan’s economy didn’t improve as a result, who else in the Asia-Pacific region could save its economy? The U.S. couldn’t; Japan couldn’t either. If Taiwan’s economy weren’t doing well, would it have been able to buy those F-35s even if the U.S. had been glad to sell them? Besides, even though the U.S. wants to sell its advanced military technology to realize the so-called “regional military balance strategy,” once China follows its plan to develop its own military power, it can still dominate in the Asia-Pacific region, no matter how advanced the weapons the U.S. sells in the region.

China’s Effective Defense Strategies

Facts tells us that no matter how China expresses to the U.S. its willingness to improve the Sino-U.S. relationship, the U.S. will still undermine the China-Taiwan relationship through regular arms sales to Taiwan. Furthermore, the U.S. already knows what China’s reactions will be to these arms sales, so China must seize the initiative on this issue.

Other than terminating Sino-U.S. military exchanges, there are at least two other effective strategies. First, China should develop deeper economic and business ties between itself and Taiwan. The most effective strategy would be to ensure that Taiwan benefits from the development of the industrial division of labor in the region, which also would be a useful strategy for China to survive the economic crisis.

Second, since the U.S. uses regular arms sales to Taiwan as a strategic policy to contain China, each time it does so, China can retaliate on the basis of international law and support the U.S.’ sensitive rivals with cheap “Made-in-China” weapons or related technology. This strategy could not only curb the U.S. strategy to undermine the relationship between mainland China and Taiwan through these regular arms sales, but also warn the U.S. of the heavy price it will pay for meddling with China.



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