Friday, December 11, 2015

Nelson Report on the US Arms Sales


The Nelson Report on the arms package for Taiwan.... and don't miss this threat from a PLA general. And this summary of the Atlantic Council Meeting. Also 5 things that should be in the arms sale. What they all show is how Beijing's squalling -- note, nothing concrete ever occurs -- has an effect on arms sales. But US consumer goods, movies, Chinese students, etc all flow unabated. There's a lesson there, if only someone in Washington will read it.


MORE FROM THE CHINA CAUCUS BRIEF...Your Editor attended the excellent Atlantic Council discussion on the anticipated $1-bil US arms package coming soon for Taiwan...the first in over 4 years, it was noted. Good write-up by the US Naval Institute, below, saves us deciphering our notes.

Of course no way will Beijing be happy about it, but in response to our question, the panel moderated by Foreign Policy Asia Editor Isaac Stone Fish thought it might be less intrusive in US-China relations to do this while the KMT is in power, rather than accentuating China's obvious angst at the imminent return of the DPP, via the Jan. 16 elections.

Much discussion also of what now seems a serious Taiwanese effort to actually build some badly-needed conventional submarines, rather than the more PR-focused demand of the past decade on the US to somehow provide them, going back to the start of the last Bush administration.

A younger audience member asked how today's "Taiwan Lobby" compared to Olden Times, allowing Your Editor the chance to recall the near-death experience of being stalked by Madame Chiang herself, arm in arm with Walter Judd, back during the writing of the Taiwan Relations Act.

Now that was the Taiwan Lobby!

Panel: Anticipated U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan Will Strain Relations With Beijing. "The Taiwanese presidential elections next month - with a change in party control expected and the likely announcement of a new billion-dollar U.S. arms sale to Taipei - will not only "send a signal to Beijing" but likely will, in the short run, increase tensions between Washington and the People's Republic of China, a panel of experts on the region said Wednesday. Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Ian Easton, a research fellow at Project 2049, said the reported U.S. sales under the Taiwan Relations Act likely will include up to four Perry-class frigates, amphibious assault vehicles, Boeing Apache helicopters and a variety of missiles for Taiwan's army. No formal package has yet been sent to Congress, so the exact dollar amount requested and numbers and types of equipment are not publicly known. Arms sales, which have been on hold for more than four years, are "the most visible" interaction between the United States and Taiwan, a nation that otherwise is "almost completely marginalized" internationally. "I can assure you China will yell and scream no matter what is in [President Barack] Obama's package," Robert Manning of the Atlantic Council added. He expects Taiwan to be looking for improved anti-submarine warfare capability even as it looks to build up its own submarine fleet. The arms sales "do complicate [Chinese] war planning . . . they have to plan accordingly" to the changed equation in equipment and training, Easton added. "[China's People's Liberation Army] has no experience" with a blockade and possible invasion on this scale when looking at Taiwan across the straits from mainland China. Joanne Yu Taylor of RAND said Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party, which is expected to win the election, will be looking at making "a great push for indigenous defense" capability, especially in cyber, aerospace and maritime. The party signaled such moves in the 12 Blue Papers it has recently produced on Taiwanese defense. But the reality for Taiwan, even with a change in governmental control, won't be much different than it is now. "Its Number One security threat is China, [and its] Number One defender, the U.S.," said Taylor."
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d said...

If China is going to yell and scream regardless, then perhaps the US should take a bigger stake in Taiwan's future. I'm reminded of the old Irish saying "In for a sheep as a lamb" - as in, if you get caught stealing a lamb you're going to jail for the same sentence as if you steal a sheep, so might as well go for the sheep.

Mike Fagan said...

Well that's a daft saying, as a lamb is worth substantially more than a sheep.