Friday, June 19, 2009

Arms Sales On Deck?

Washington sources say that Wang Yi (王毅), director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, will be in the US next week for talks with the US State Department about potential future arms sales to Taiwan.
Is there any reason for this? An obvious break from one of Reagan's Six Assurances, which stipulates that there will be no prior consultations with the PRC about arms sales to Taiwan. Likely as a result of this, the article states that the US State Department is unwilling to confirm this, as well as all parties involved are being vague as to whether a meeting is actually happening or not. But:

a source with close ties to the State Department and Taiwan said that Wang would visit and that the weapons sales would be high on his agenda.
The irony I find in all of this, putting aside the consultation with China issue, is that at first glance, it would seem that Ma Ying Jeou was actually putting Taiwan's interest in the forefront. After all, Taiwan as a whole, regardless of party, has pretty much always been for the acquisition of arms (esp. the F-16s) for quite some time, dating back to the CSB era. Now with the "warming" of ties, and general support for the sale in the US congress, we might just see that.

But, I beg to say that this acquisition of the F-16s may actually be harmful to the U.S. in the long run. One of the main reasons in the past for the U.S. having reservations about selling advanced weapons and fighters to Taiwan was the fear of a possible annexation of Taiwan by China. This would indeed let China acquire U.S. weapons technology that would definitely not be beneficial to the U.S. and the world. What we do not need is a bigger China with a bigger stick, on par with the U.S.

Perhaps this is just another bargaining chip that Ma is willing to use to curry favor with China in order to receive more "goodwill." That is, the annexation of Taiwan will be accompanied with weapons technology.

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