Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Nelson Report replies to Rupert Hammond-Chambers + Remarks on Tsai-Japan relationship

Riding in Pingtung.

The Nelson Report replies to Rupert Hammond-Chambers (original post here). This debate is going to take on new life with the new administrations in both the US and Taiwan, and the rapidly changing strategic picture in East and SE Asia.

++++++++++++++

THE TAIWAN ARMS DISCUSSION... Friday's Report contained a long note from Loyal Reader Rupert Hammond-Chambers, chief of the US-Taiwan Business Council here, which we were happy to run as "equal time" to our own comments earlier in the week.

Because he made so many important points, we discussed it with informed colleagues, and do feel the need to add some points to what Rupert strongly objected to in our original note.

First, until and unless the situation is rectified by the new Legislative Yuan, as a practical matter the Taiwan military is out of money. They are reducing the number of their forces. That being the case, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) is in absorption-mode, not acquisition-mode at the moment.

How many Letters of Requests (LOR) did Taiwan submit in 2012-2013 after the 2011 notification? Nobody in the USG turns away LORs, this is a charge that many accept but which is disproven by the facts.

Also, Taiwan does not submit requests on a regular basis either, we are reliably informed...but here's where the misunderstanding may arise: You may remember the press articles last March about Taiwan "wanting" to buy MH-60R helicopters. An informed USG official responds:

"If you want something, submit the LOR to AIT and DSCA so the USG can start the lengthy process make the decision whether or not to sell it. Giving an interview to Defense News does not qualify as asking the USG. The USG can't include something in a notification package if the Taiwans do not request it."

Further, as a practical matter, it was argued, "requesting" via the media puts the USG is the uncomfortable position of pressuring Taiwan to submit LORs to "prove" to Congress that the Administration isn't dragging its feet... only to have Taipei come back and say they don't want to buy it, or they want only a small number.

An example: no one has pointed out that Taiwan was authorized four Perry Class Frigates in the new legislation, but DOD only notified two? Did the Obama Administration exercise restraint and withhold two because of a fear of China, as some may charge? Our sources say absolutely not, and that Taiwan only wants two.

No debate there are definitely problems aligning Taiwan budget cycles with US decision-cycles, but that is not the crux of the problem. And yes, some in this (and every) administration are probably overly cautious about PRC reactions.

Two final points, we should note that Rupert seems to be recommending "something new" being sold every few months. That is not threat based planning.

And finally, this...as a very junior staff participant in drafting the Taiwan Relations Act, we would gently remind everyone that it isn't true, as is now usually claimed, that the TRA "requires the US to sell arms to Taiwan". Read the language again...

What's required is that the Administration consult with Congress on a regular basis to determine what the situation is, and what arms Taiwan may need.

Also, an acquaintance passed this along...
I went to a seminar on " Is Japan Really Back ?" at Columbia University this afternoon. It was a special program honoring the retirement of Gerald L. Curtis after his 47 years of teaching at Columbia.

The seminar was more on military and security and less on economics. But, it was fairly informative. Most panelists are Curtis' former graduate students of Curtis, now on the faculty in universities from all over the world.

One interesting question was asked about Taiwan at the end. The session chair, a Columbia alum and a former graduate student of Curtis did disclaim that what he said in the seminar was his own, and not reflected the US government.

However, I think it was very rare for an incumbent State Department officer to say that bluntly on the relationship between two other nations.

" Taiwan is a chip for Abe. The DPP will win the presidential election and Taiwan will be closer to Japan after 2016.

Tsai Ing -Wen had a " secret meeting " with Abe ( with his hands to show the quote) in her trip to Japan, and they are good friends.

Abe could hold Taiwan in his pocket as his leverage for Japan's economic and security interests, and Beijing knows well about it".
_______________________
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The responder does not really address the questions raised by Rupert. Rather, he seems to be trying to muddy the waters. Rupert said USG officials privately told the Taiwanese not to submit LoRs. The best the responder can do is come up with an evasive counter-question "How many Letters of Requests (LOR) did Taiwan submit in 2012-2013 after the 2011 notification?" Also, Taiwan already has eight Perry-class frigates and another eight (more heavily armed) destroyers. Did Taiwan need or even want more decommissioned frigates in the face of China's rapidly improving anti-ship missile power? The Perry sales are another attempt to make a show (without much substance) of supporting Taiwan while in fact trying to cash in on junk, I suspect. Some Taiwan navy brass told the media that they didn't want the four Perrys, but decided to buy two as a compromise deal.

On the other hand, there's no denying that the Ma administration's attitude to defense was very destructive, as was the KMT's attitude during Chen Shui-bian's term.

an angry taiwanese said...

Taiwan is a chip for Abe.
There are not only Taiwanese haters but also Japanese haters among China experts of the State Department. This State officer basically called out the same contempt from General Hau's saying: "those Jap serfs!-("

taiwan-in-perspective.com said...

"Also, Taiwan already has eight Perry-class frigates and another eight (more heavily armed) destroyers. Did Taiwan need or even want more decommissioned frigates in the face of China's rapidly improving anti-ship missile power? The Perry sales are another attempt to make a show (without much substance) of supporting Taiwan while in fact trying to cash in on junk, I suspect."

First, Taiwan has only 4 destroyers (ex Kidd-class). Second, I really think you do great disservice to Perrys calling them junk. They are still capable ships, their replacement by LCS in the US Navy received fair share of criticism, and Taiwan can find use for them after the Navy retired Knox-class that specialized in anti-submarine warfare. It is true that Taiwan takes two instead of four, but the explanation will be somewhere between what you say (and I heard too) and impending 20-year plan that the Navy wants to push, which calls for replacing standing fleet with equivalents produced domestically. In any case, refurbished and upgraded Perry is a far cry from a junk.

Tommy said...

Perhaps a better way of putting this is that there is blame to be shared all around, while trust is in short supply. I do not think anyone can identify THE guilty party, can they? We can hope that Tsai will have the willingness, capability and support on both sides to shift the relationship to a more stable footing.

Anonymous said...

To "an angry taiwanese",

I agree with you. In the US State Department, there are people who have long been captured by the joint lobby warchest of KMT-CCP.

Taiwan is a chip, not for Abe, but for those in the US State Department. That's why they are dumping those rotting war wastes to Taiwan for ransom and calling it an "arms sale".