What Beijing needs to understand is that arms sales are more than just the fulfillment of the US moral and legal commitment to help Taiwan defend itself. In the final analysis, these sales are driven by Taiwan's perceived defensive needs in the face of a relentless expansion of Chinese military capabilities across the Strait. The best way to get Taiwan to request less would be for China to significantly reduce the threat Taipei currently faces).It's highly unlikely that Taipei would begin construction of a nuclear capability, especially with a party more or less allied to Beijing running the government. But that kind of rhetoric shows the concern and puzzlement among US commentators over Beijing's behavior, evidenced also in the Bush piece discussed below this post. Is there a re-assessment going on in the US foreign policy community? Let's hope so.....
Arms sales to Taiwan are a clear demonstration of Washington's commitment to peace and stability in Asia that send a clear signal to allies and potential adversaries alike that the US is determined to be an Asia-Pacific power. A refusal to sell much-needed arms to Taiwan would raise serious doubts about the credibility of the US defense commitment to its other allies. It could also compel Taiwan to turn to
nuclear weapons as a last resort, an outcome that China, least of all, should want to see.
The NYTimes also editorialized on The Challenge of China...
The sales could not have been a surprise to China’s leadership. Mr. Obama told President Hu Jintao of his intentions at their summit in November in Beijing. The arms were part of a package approved by former President George W. Bush, and Mr. Obama left out the most controversial items: F-16 jets and diesel submarines.Both Cossa and the NYTimes pointed out that Obama told the Chinese months ago this sale would go forward. The noise that Beijing is making is just a game their playing...
Rather than encouraging Taiwan’s independence, as Beijing claims, the arms sales will give Taiwan’s president, Ma Ying-jeou, the confidence to continue his efforts to improve relations with the mainland. It is absurd for China to think that any Taiwanese leader would not want to bolster his country’s defenses when Beijing is modernizing its arsenal and stationing more than 1,000 missiles across the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing’s threat to punish American companies is a dangerous game, especially at a time when criticism is rampant — around the world and on Capitol Hill — about China’s unfair trade practices.
...one thing this military build-up during the China-friendly Ma Administration has done is made it extremely difficult for critics of the DPP to reasonably claim that it is "provoking" China. Beijing has made it quite clear that the military build up will go on irrespective of who is in power -- meaning that it is now crystal clear the problem is Beijing.
In other news, Taiwan's share of imports into China has fallen...
Though Taiwan remained China's third largest source of imports in 2009, its share declined as Chinese purchases of Taiwanese goods contracted dramatically, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) reported Saturday.The solution, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs? You know what it must be: ECFA.
The MOEA, citing data from Chinese customs, said that Taiwanese products accounted for 8.5 percent of Chinese imports in 2009, down from 9.1 percent in 2008.
Japan remained China's top source of imports with a 13 percent share in 2009, slightly down from 13.3 percent in 2008, while South Korea was second with a market share of 10.2 percent, up from the 9.9 percent of the previous year.
China's imports from Taiwan recorded the largest annual contraction of China's top three suppliers, falling 17.1 percent from a year earlier.
- Thanks to the reader who left this list of what to read about Taiwan politics from Foreign Affairs. Speaking of such lists, Paul Katz has a great one on religion and Chinese modernity at The China Beat.
- Jerome K on bias in the Diane Lee, Ma, and Chen cases.
- Neil Wade with some lovely random Taiwan images.
- Despite massive layoffs of Filipino workers in Taiwan, remittances actually grew during the recession.
- Taroko indigenous people vs giant cement company: Wild at Heart has the report.
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