Saturday, June 16, 2007

Portion of Arms Purchase Passes

Jane Rickards, formerly of the pro-KMT China post and currently of the American Chamber of Commerce here in Taiwan, has an article in the Washington Post today on the legislature's passage of a tiny portion of the contentious arms purchase:

The negotiated decision, which passed on a vote of 176 to 20, called for Taiwan to spend $300 million on military purchases from the United States. Legislators approved the purchase of P-3 Orion anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft but declined to equip the island with the advanced PAC-3 antimissile systems encouraged by the Bush administration, opting instead to update existing Patriot missile batteries.

Legislators also declined to purchase diesel-electric submarines as suggested by Washington but promised to study the issue further.

The approved purchases fall far short of the arms package proposed by the Bush administration in 2001 as the best way to meet the challenge of China's military buildup. The legislature's decision seemed likely to intensify complaints in Washington that Taiwan is unwilling to shoulder the expenses necessary to maintain a level of military preparedness.

Rickards quotes Philip Yang, who shows up in many of these articles, suggesting that this little bone is the result of Ma Ying-jeou's eagerness to get in good with Washington:

Philip Yang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University, said the Nationalists decided to endorse at least the Orion aircraft purchase under the influence of Ma Yingjeou, the Nationalist candidate in the 2008 presidential election, who is eager to show he can deliver better relations with the United States than the often-contentious Chen.

Hopefully Washington will reconsider its short-sighted failure to sell Taiwan F-16s.


Anonymous said...

Taiwan should really go and develop their own stuff. I'm sure the technology is there and it would get the economy going and have better defence then the 2nd rate junk America sells.

Of course that's under the condition that USA doesn't want to keep Taiwan in check.

Michael Turton said...

I totally agree that Taiwan should go ahead and develop its own stuff. But I have to take issue -- almost everything the US sells to Taiwan is good or even top of the line.


Angry Taiwanese Guy said...

Ugh, even though Chen was pro arms package he's now blamed for it and Ma, whom was against the arms package is now the one responsible for getting part of it through? Black is indeed white for pro-KMT writers like Rickards.

Raj said...

America does not sell Taiwan junk at all. It sells what Taiwan can afford and what is most useful. It is a common misconception held by those that consume Pan-Blue propaganda. All of the things offered to Taiwan in recent years are either top-of-the-line or very good deals.

Taiwan is trying to make its own stuff, but the problem is that the success of what it makes is variable. So because its defence budget is limited by the size of the economy (approaching 3% of GDP but still less than $US10 billion), it has to buy American so it can get something useful. There's little money that can be wasted on failed projects, so domestic is more risky. The only reason the IDF took off was because the F-16 wasn't being sold - its successor is not favoured by the ROCAF because it is still not that good, even if it is an improvement.

There are some things that look like they'll be fairly decent, such as the CM-32 armoured vehicle (though the armour is only partial on the sides and rear) and the HF-III anti-ship missile. There's also the Sky Bow III ground-to-air missile that is nearly development completion. But for important things like fighters and helicopters it has to buy foreign.

Doubtless Taiwan will develop its domestic industry further, but it is limited in what it can do. That is simply reality - smaller countries can't fund their own top-level military industries because it takes a lot of money and investment. In some respects Taiwan has made great achievements given its size.