US Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, the Nevada democrat who co-chairs the Taiwan caucus, told a Washington conference on Tuesday that she was preparing to write a letter to US President Barack Obama asking him to sell Taiwan the F-16 fighter aircraft it has requested.The article goes on to suggest that the Obama Administration is reluctant to anger China, which Obama is visiting in November. The F-16s represent a substantial sum of money for US defense firms, as well as a concrete representation of US commitment to Taiwan.
Foreign Policy observes that the F-16s are a no-win for Obama Administration. China, the article says, might cut off military-military relations again. It further describes:
But Taiwan has been no match for the counter-lobbying from the Chinese side, including a direct warning on the matter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington in July, the sources said.One reads these articles at regular intervals. Simply put, there is always something going on between the US and China, and thus, always something to disrupt. And if Beijing learns that displays of anger get results, it will increase them -- every parent of toddlers knows that.
The clock is ticking for Taiwan, because its parliament has already budgeted the funds for the weapons but would have to start its acquisition process over if no answer is proffered by the end of the year. But Taiwan's government has no illusions that the Obama team would sacrifice its military connection with China or risk an ambitious bilateral agenda that includes climate change, energy, and a host of trade and other economic issues.
FP was writing on the interview of Adm Keating on US weapons sales, also reported on by Taiwan News:
However, he expressed the hope that China will not react that way, as the United States has continued the sale of appropriate defensive military equipment to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act since it was enacted in 1979.Keating, according to the Army Times, believes relations are improving. Army Times adds:
Noting that the supply of weapons to Taiwan is not a new U.S. policy, Keating said he hopes China will view the matter from a more long term and broader perspective.
Keating also praised President Ma Ying-jeou's China policy, saying it is wise to promote friendlier relations with China because this will be beneficial to both sides.
He noted that since Ma took office, Taiwan has reached several agreements with China, and said he believes this has contributed greatly to stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Keating, who arrived at Pacific Command in March 2007, is in Washington for a meeting on the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, among other engagements. He will be replaced Oct. 19 at Pacific Command by Adm. Robert Willard, currently commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.Army Times offered the most interesting tidbit of them all, which I have saved for last:
No, really? You give and give and get nothing from China. Who could have predicted that?
In an effort to build better relations, and better understand Chinese intentions, Keating said their military has been invited to observe U.S. and joint exercises, attend U.S. training schools and participate in humanitarian exercises.
“As yet we don’t have any firm response,” he said. “The Chinese have sent some observers to some of our exercises, [such as] last year’s Cobra Gold, a big multilateral exercise in Thailand.”
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