Lots going on this week with US-Taiwan relations and East Asian foreign policy affairs. At the CSIS forum, American academics emphasized that Taiwan remains a vital interest of the US:
Answering a question from the audience, Gregson dismissed the idea of the US abandoning Taiwan to foster a better relationship with China.I can't help but note that people are constantly talking about this "rebalancing" or "pivot" as if something is actually happening. Hello! Can anyone point to abundant concrete examples of this new policy? Troop and ship redeployments? Drawdown and termination of the stupidity and folly in Afghanistan? Increased investment in weapons systems needed to fight wars in far-off Asia? It looks for now like another of the endless examples of Obama trying to create reality through better rhetoric. Indeed, the US has "rebalanced" by increasing its outrageously stupid and criminal drone war in the Middle East. Future historians will be driven to opium consumption when they contemplate the monumental stupidity of US Middle East policy under Bush Lite and Obama.
“Abandon Taiwan? Absolutely not,” he said, adding that the US had vital interests in the region.
Gregson was speaking at a forum on “US Strategy in Asia and Taiwan’s Future” hosted by the US-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies.
At a roundtable discussion, US economic adviser Kevin Nealer said the US would like to see Taiwan join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its formative stage to help shape the regional economy.
“We think it’s in our interests. We think it’s in yours,” he said.
Abe Denmark, a senior project director for political and security affairs at the National Bureau of Asian Research, presented his views on the US’ new strategic guidance released by the US Department of Defense earlier this year.
Denmark said the US’ rebalancing strategy in Asia has three implications for Taiwan — although Taiwan is not specifically mentioned in the guidance.
J Michael Cole, tiger of many talents, left his spoor in The Diplomat with a sturdy piece on what the US needs to do if it wants to deter a clash over Taiwan -- make the island bristle with missiles:
Although MTCR play an important role in countering proliferation, their enforcement on Taiwan, a state that has no expansionist ambition whatsoever, while China continues to extend the range and precision and destructiveness of its own missile arsenal thanks to technology passed on by (or stolen from) Russia, makes no sense. In light of this, and to rectify the “balance of terror” in the Taiwan Strait – which under current conditions is one-way – the U.S. should within reason allow Taiwan, if not quietly assist it, to develop longer-range ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as artillery capable of acting in a counterforce role, and coastal suppression munitions, which is already found on some of Taiwan’s air-launched Harpoon missiles. Dispersing the deployment of such forces, as well as making them mobile through the use of transport erector launcher (TEL) vehicles rather than fixed bases, would also increase the deterrence value.I've been saying this for years. It's time to give Taiwan what it needs to keep Chinese forces at bay until the cavalry arrive. Missiles are a cheap and useful deterrent.
In return, Taiwan should commit to ensuring that whatever missile technology is acquired from the U.S. won’t be proliferated, while boosting efforts to ensure that critical information isn’t passed on to, or stolen by, China. While self-evident, Taiwan should also commit to a no-first-use policy, thus making its offensive capability a purely defensive one. One advantage for the U.S. in adopting such a strategy of assistance for Taiwan is that the political cost of doing so in terms of Washington’s relations with Beijing would likely be smaller than, say, in releasing F-16C/Ds or approving a submarine program. Another benefit in the long term is that the resultant deterrence capability for Taiwan would make war in the Strait less, rather than more, likely, as the cost for the PLA of launching an attack on Taiwan would have been increased. For Taiwan, embarking on such a program would prove far less straining on its finite military budgets than the acquisition of billion-dollar platforms of questionable utility in a modern Taiwan Strait context.
Also, a couple of weeks ago a delegation of the US Republican Party visited Taipei. Here's a key part of their report:
American-Taiwan relationship issues raised by Taiwan officials during our meetings included:Curiously, the KMT continues to insist it wants F-16s -- remember when the party blocked them from reaching the floor of the legislature more than 60 times during the Chen era. They are just playing a game....
1. Their desire to purchase F16 C/D aircraft as well as other sophisticated military hardware.
2. They would also like to receive Visa Waivers.
3. Concern that South Korea would soon receive tariff- free status, putting Taiwan at a commercial disadvantage.
At our meeting with AIT, the issue of American beef and pork imports was discussed. Taiwan does not allow American beef or pork to be imported because of their concern over a chemical feed additive, ractopamin, that we consider safe, so their market is off-limit to US farmers. AIT said that pork producers are a powerful political block in Taiwan.
Taiwan now has robust economic ties with mainland China. Many manufacturers have their products made in China. There are now hundreds of weekly flights between the two countries, with thousands of mainland Chinese visiting Taiwan. Many believe that with more mainlanders visiting Taiwan, they will learn about a free society and may have a better understanding of how democracy works. During the recent presidential election, millions of mainlanders intently followed the election on the internet.
As Taiwan seeks a closer relationship with mainland China and as their economic ties with China become intertwined and increasingly dependent, they are keenly aware of the precarious position they may be creating. One graphic statement by the Vice President of the KMT, the political party in power, illustrated this concern. He stated that Taiwan is “Dancing with a wolf…while holding a dagger at its side for protection …the dagger representing American strength and support.”
Just for fun: Lee Teng-hui this week said the Senkakus actually belong to Japan. ChinaSMACK picked up some of the reaction from the Chinese netizens. They've imbibed PRC propaganda so deeply that I've come to believe that a democratic China would be just as expanionist.
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