Monday, October 29, 2012

Daily Links, Monday, Oct 29th

What's wriggling around on the blogs this week? The misnomered Monday links....


  • AsiaEye's under-the-radar news for this week.
  • Raw crab! No, thanks.
  • Craig with pics from the LGBT parade.
  • Travel in salt pans of Tainan. Good pics.
  • Understanding Taiwanese scooter rage. And don't miss his Hsinchu man jailed for comparing a woman to Doraemon.
  • The Dignified Rant rewrites history a bit. Ok, a lot:
    Of course, President Bush offered to sell F-16s to Taiwan, too, over a decade ago. By the time Taiwan wanted to buy them, President Obama wasn't selling.
    It was the Bush Administration that started the US refusal to sell F-16s to Taiwan. The formal request from Chen Shui-bian arrived in 2006; the US State Department pretended for years that no formal letter had been sent, or else begged Taiwan not to send one, or their dog ate the letter, or whatever. President Bush refused to sell F-16s to Taiwan; President Obama continued this policy. Let's not let ideology bend reality, eh Brian?  The current policy is a pavane -- whenever Taipei talks about actually buying them, the US will say that it won't sell; whenever the US hints it might sell, suddenly Taipei will have budget trouble. Neither the Ma Administration nor the US foreign policy establishment, irrespective of who is warming the White House throne, wants Taiwan to have 66 shiny new F-16s. Simple as that. UPDATE: Brian responded:
    I'd like to say that this was simply a post to remind the Taiwanese to buy when the offer is out there and not to wait until Chinese pressure can get the offer cancelled. Yes, Bush did turn down a Taiwanese request for new F-16s near the end of his presidency. But the reason given for turning down the request was that previous years of Taiwanese political arguments over defense purchases led President Bush to be wary of accepting a request absent indications that Taiwan's government would appropriate the money to buy them.

    While President Obama certainly "continued" the failure to sell new F-16s from the Bush era, the excuse of Taiwan not being serious about spending the money didn't seem like the issue. Indeed, the Obama administration was reassured by the Taiwanese that they were serious about wanting to buy new planes. In the end, the Taiwanese considered upgrades to the old F-16s a mere consolation prize.
Since he doesn't allow comments, I am forced to respond here. The Ma government was never serious about buying new planes; when Chairman of the KMT during the Chen Administration the KMT blocked the F-16 sale from reaching the legislature's floor many times. The Chen administration was serious about obtaining F-16s. Contrary to Brian's claim, the money was appropriated to begin the sale in 2006 and again in 2007. The money was there and Taiwan was ready, but individuals on both sides were playing a game, taking turns throwing up obstacles, the KMT-led legislature freezing the funds ostensibly because the US wasn't providing data on costs. Haha. Had the Bush Administration wanted, there were many ways to arrange a transfer of aircraft. Ultimately, the Bush Administration was serving Beijing on this issue, because it had its own priorities, including North Korea. Thus, three times between 2006 and 2008 the Bush Administration refused to accept a Letter of Request (LOR) from Taipei. It was not "reluctant" or "wary" or whatever. It was pro-actively establishing a policy of not selling F-16s because it was "sensitive" to China. When the Obama Administration decided not to sell F-16s, it was  following established policy, equally pro-actively and for the same reasons. There wasn't any difference between the attitude of the two Administrations.

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! Delenda est, baby.


Readin said...

The main point of the comment about F-16s is that Romney is promising to sell the F-16s to Taiwan. You're right of course that neither Bush the Younger nor Obama the Unready has shown much interest in supporting Taiwan. However Bush is not on either party's presidential ticket. You have a choice between Romney who doesn't have record on Taiwan (other than promising support) and Obama who refuses to sell Taiwan useful weapons and hasn't done any serious work on a FTA with Taiwan (I suppose he might consider such an agreement "offshoring").

Even if the sale never goes through, Romney offering to sell the F-16s would at least put the burden back on the KMT to explain why they aren't intersted in defending the country.

Readin said...

From an article you linked to: "With Taiwan to be formally admitted to the U.S. visa waiver program Nov. 1, Sanchez has been invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attend a celebration to mark the event, the AIT said." So within a few days of Taiwan's presidential election, the Obama administration announces easing of rules with Taiwan to help Ma get elected, and now he has this visa waiver taking effect within days of the vote in America.

Michael Turton said...

[quote]Even if the sale never goes through, Romney offering to sell the F-16s would at least put the burden back on the KMT to explain why they aren't intersted in defending the country.[/quote]

True, but they would simply point out that the budget won't cover it, as always.

yankdownunder said...

Another military officer arrested for spying for China?

"A defense ministry spokesman says several other officers have also been arrested."

several - how many?

Taiwan is the same as the Senkakus.
Either China is right and they are part of China. Or China is wrong and Taiwan/Japan and their allies should say so in no uncertain terms and act accordingly(develop Senkakus,declare Taiwan is a real country).

Readin said...

Regarding the Bush administration: my impression is that early in his term Bush was very pro-Taiwan. However he gave signs that he put a high value on personal relationships when dealing with other countries (hence the insane comment about looking into Putin's soul). Something seems to have gone sour between him and Chen (perhaps related to Chen not making room for other priorities as you mention - perhaps Bush got wind of Chen's illegal behaviors - one can speculate). Bush seemed to pivot pretty hard from being very pro-Taiwan to being very anti-Taiwan (but mildly warm to the "Republic of China").

Obama, on the other hand, has never given me the impression that he thinks one way or the other about Taiwan. It's just this place and it is easiests to follow the policies laid down by his predecessors. He seems unwilling to take political risks to push it one direction or the other. This contrasts on one hand with Clinton who generally seems to have liked Taiwan/ROC and on the other hand with Biden who infamously told Taiwan that we had already decided for Taiwan that it would be annexed by China (though I've come to doubt the precision of that quote - I suspect it was a paraphrase rather than a direct quote).

As for the F-16 sales - how much American technology should we be willing to let former ROC military officers sell to China? How does it help Taiwan's defense to give China information about the technologies we would use to defend Taiwan?

Anonymous said...

I haven't been following news about Chen for a while, but is the article in true about how Chen is treated in prison: "The smallish cell did not allow him to stretch out while sleeping; he was confined in this cell over 23 hours a day; no bed, not desk, and no chair; a bright fluorescent light was on 24 hours a day so that a monitor could watch his every move even when he used the no-flush toilet hole. "?

Y.K. said...

The US has sold advanced F-16 C-D models to Pakistan (friend of China), Iraq (Iranian-influenced) and Egypt (not-so-reliable these days). After these sales, refusing to sell the same type of planes to Taiwan on security grounds is a joke. If anything, the upgrade deal is worse on sec grounds than new sales (as that deal is supposed to contain some tech not usually found in these models).