Tuesday, March 21, 2006

US Pressures Taipei on Arms Again

The IHT reports that the US is once again pushing Taipei to buy that dog of an arms package -- U.S. presses Taipei on arms deadlock :

When the Bush administration agreed in 2001 to bolster Taiwan's military with an $18.8 billion arms sale, it was seen as a coup for the island in its effort to counter the growing power and influence of China.

The conventional submarines, Patriot antimissile batteries and P3-C submarine-hunting aircraft approved for delivery would assist Taiwan in its efforts to keep up with the rapid military buildup under way on the mainland.

It was the biggest U.S. arms sale in a decade to its longtime ally, and it sent a powerful signal that Washington remained committed to Taiwan's security.

But five years later the triumph has all but evaporated as opposition lawmakers in Taipei refuse to release funds for the weapons. Despite repeated demands from the United States that Taiwan should spend more to provide for its own defense, the arms deal has become a casualty of the deep divisions on the island over how to meet the challenge posed by China.

A good overview of affairs, although it takes the pro-China pan-Blue arguments too much at face value, and does not really bring out their cooperation with China. One comment I found interesting:

Washington is committed to defending Taiwan if it comes under unprovoked attack. But some analysts believe that Taiwan is so important to the balance of power in Asia that Washington would be forced to deploy forces to defend the island under almost any circumstances.

Tokyo, too, may be unlikely to tolerate the mainland gaining control over an island that sits astride the sea lanes that carry Japan's imports of raw materials and manufactured exports.

Which analysts have argued that Washington should support Taiwan no matter what?

One thing the article should have mentioned is that Washington itself is split on the package. The US Navy does not want the US to institute a conventional submarine manufacturing capability, since it prefers an all-nuclear sub fleet. Hence, the Navy has been asking that the (wildly overpriced) submarines be taken out of the purchase, and replaced something of more value to the island. It is not only Taiwan that has a problem here.

Like fighters. Can we have some more modern interceptors and attack aircraft?

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