Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump strikes at China with arms sales to Taiwan

Crazy hot this weekend on the coast, but good riding.

The Trump Administration State Department released a large arms deal for Taiwan, something which has been long predicted but had been held up. According to Defense News, the deal was worth $1.3 on the surface, but will need Congressional approval and may end up below that figure. Lawmakers have 30 days to object, according to AP....
The State Department has approved arms sales to Taiwan worth a total of $1.4 billion, the first such deal with the self-governing island since President Donald Trump took office, officials said Thursday.

The sale will anger China, which regards Taiwan as part of its territory. It comes at a delicate time for relations between Washington and Beijing over efforts to rein in nuclear-armed North Korea.
Note that the routine formula is followed: we learn that China will be angry, but we do not learn that the people of Taiwan -- our ally! -- will gain protection. Thus, the framing is entirely negative. Sad. Further down, we are told the relationship has deteriorated but not that Beijing was the cause. Why are there alt-facts? Because the media refuses to accurately describe the world.

I've placed the Nelson Report comments on the arms sale at the bottom of this post, but one quote from an anonymous and well placed Nelson Report reader said it all:
"Chris, word on the street is that WH has called this "F- China Month".
A longtime and knowledgeable observer said that Washington was rapidly accepting that it would need to stop delaying arms sales so that they can be rolled out in packages. Rather, they would have to be sent to Congress as soon as the Pentagon approves them. This would increase the deterrent effect. US-Taiwan Business Council head Rupert Hammond-Chambers added
“The Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Packaging several years’ worth of items drives up the overall dollar value of each tranche of notifications. Each Taiwan arms sale also becomes a rare and compelling event, drawing significantly more attention than it might otherwise garner. This creates a more substantial opportunity for Chinese protests and posturing in response to each sale, protests that have had a deterrent effect on U.S. willingness to release needed but advanced systems to Taiwan - such as new-build fighters and submarines. It would be in the U.S. interest to provide less of an impetus for Chinese protests in response to Taiwan arms sales, and moving away from packaging would be a substantial step in the right direction.”
Recall that this package was delayed by the Obama Administration -- an actual sellout of Taiwan's interests to please China.

The US-Taiwan Business Council says the deal is for...
The published FMS Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 16-67, 16-68, 16-69, 16-70, 16-73, 16-74, and 16-75) were for SM-2 Block IIIA All-Up Rounds, associated equipment and technical support (US$125 million); MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo Conversion Kits, spare parts and other support and assistance (US$175 million); MK 48 Mod 6AT Heavyweight Torpedoes, other support, spare parts, training, and assistance (US$250 million); Hardware, software, and other upgrades to the AN/SLQ-32(V)3 Electronic Warfare Systems supporting Taiwan’s KEELUNG Class destroyers (US$80 million); AGM-154C JSOW Air-to-Ground Missiles, spare/repair parts and other support and assistance (US$185.5 million); AGM-88B HARMs and Training HARMs, spare/repair parts, testing, and other support and assistance (US$147.5 million); SRP Operations and Maintenance follow-on sustainment (US$400 million).[i]
Note that these are largely upgrades and additions to current systems. Nothing really major here. Details are here. ADDED: Note comment below about the package actually having some new/interesting things...

Meanwhile this week a Senate Committee backs a bill calling for port calls in Taiwan by US naval ships (FocusTw):
The Armed Services Committee of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a provision that will allow U.S. naval vessels to make regular stops at Taiwanese ports.

The provision was adopted by a vote 21-6 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2018, which will now move on to the full Senate for consideration.

It stipulates re-establishing "regular ports of call by the U.S. Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan" and permitting "U.S. Pacific Command to receive ports of call by Taiwan," according to a summary of the bill.
It also calls for the US to provide technical support for weapons development in Taiwan, for indigenous undersea warfare vehicles (subs!!) and mines. China had a fainting spell and called for smelling salts over this. UPDATE: Apparently ROCN visits to PACOM ports such as Guam, Hawaii, and Yokusaka are also included in this, a Navy friend tells me.

This is good news all around. It illustrates the old observation that whenever the US moves farther from China it moves closer to Taiwan. By the same token, it shows that Taiwan will always be at the mercy of the US relationship with China. But I don't expect that relationship to improve much... especially since the US sanctioned Chinese banks for dealing with N Korea. A clear signal, that....
Daily Links:
Below READ MORE is the Nelson Report:

SUMMARY: the Administration delivered a "one-two punch" today for anyone who thinks that Xi Jinping somehow snowed Trump into going easy on Beijing because of alleged help on N. Korea, and being "transactional" on the vital question of helping Taiwan keep some semblance of an effective defense capability to deter PLA adventurism in a crisis:
First, while Xi is still in Hong Kong (!) State announced a $1.4 billion arms sale package; then Treasury's OFAC announced it was finally implementing some "secondary sanctions" against Chinese banks and businesses still underwriting the Kim Regime in N. Korea despite Beijing's claims to oppose Kim's nukes, missiles and threats to one and all.
Both come just before a Xi-Trump bilateral at the Hamburg G-20, and that coincides with the end of what a frankly sarcastic player calls "the Magic 100 Day Trade Review", virtually guaranteeing more will come as various "enforcement" decisions come due. Steel, anyone?
A senior US-China hand preferring ANON status:
"You have to read the OFAC decision as a 'vote of no confidence' by Trump in terms of Xi's willingness or ability to somehow 'fix' the N. Korea problem.  Trump now apparently realizes that the Chinese will always disappoint him. In fact, that they are built to do that!"
National Security Advisor McMaster was politer yesterday at the Center for a New American Security, saying China represents a vital lever to pressure North Korea to step back from nuclear weapons.     
"I think one the key elements of the strategy is that decision, how much China is able, really willing, able to help," McMaster said. "China does have a great deal of control over that situation, largely through coercive power related to its economic relations...The North Korean problem is not a problem between the United States and North Korea. It's a problem between North Korea, China and the world. And China recognizes that this is a big problem for them..."
God help us, Treasury is Tweeting, also:
Treasury targets Chinese bank serving as gateway for illicit N Korean financial activity, and issues sanctions:
Looking at the big picture, Loyal Reader Frank Jannuzi, Mansfield Foundation:
"These are modest steps, probably long overdue from a technical standpoint.  That said, these moves will not significantly curtail China-DPRK trade and investment or encourage Beijing to be more cooperative at the UN.  To the contrary, Trump's mercurial nature will likely undercut Chinese support for U.S. pressure tactics and exacerbate growing tensions in U.S.-China relations.  Gonna be a long hot summer..."
Oh yeah!! Here's an ANON quote on which the protection need is self-evident, both on content and point of origin:
"Chris, word on the street is that WH has called this "F- China Month".
Sigh, so much for good taste. Scroll down for the gory details of Trump's latest "mercurial". Here's the arms sale story from the official "background brief", attributable to a "U.S. Government official":
This afternoon, the Department of State approved and delivered Congressional notifications for several sales to Taiwan cumulatively valued at approximately $1.4 billion. The notifications from DSCA are attached.
Systems include:
·        Early Warning Radar Surveillance Technical Support ($400 million)
·        AGM-154C Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW) ($185.5 million)
·        AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) Missiles ($147.5 million)
·        MK 48 6AT Heavy Weight Torpedoes ($250 million)
·        MK 46 to MK-54 Torpedo Upgrade ($175 million)
·        SM-2 Missile Components ($125 million)
·        AN/SLQ-32A Electronic Warfare (EW) Shipboard Suite Upgrade ($80 million) 
The Administration has formally notified Congress of seven proposed defense sales for Taiwan cumulatively valued at $1.3 billion.
Under long-standing U.S. policy, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are guided by the Taiwan Relations Act and based on an assessment of Taiwan's defense needs. There is no change to our longstanding "one China" policy based on the Three Joint Communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act. Today's notifications are consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, and our support for Taiwan's ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.
These sales represent upgrades including converting current defensive legacy systems from analog to digital.
Across decades and Presidential Administrations, the United States has remained deeply committed to meeting Taiwan's defense needs. This Administration is resolved to fully implement the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act under which the United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services in such quantity necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.
Taiwan's defensive capability gives it the confidence to engage with the mainland in dialogue to improve cross-Strait relations.  In this context, our arms sales to Taiwan support peace and stability -- not only in the Taiwan Strait, but also in the entire Asia Pacific region. We support further development of cross-Strait relations at a pace and scope acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Here's the AP story, which needs a couple of clarification/corrections:

US approves 1st arms sale to Taiwan under Trump

[story removed]

Your Editor: two points...first, the TRA does not "require" arms sales, but it doesrequire that the Administration consult with Congress on what is needed to help Taiwan preserve the peaceful status quo vis a vis the Mainland. 

Perhaps this misunderstanding accounts for our second concern, the claim that today's announcement does not "violate" the TRA. Huh!?  How did anyone at State get that idea? Matt is a valued colleague and experienced reporter, so we have nodoubt he quoted Nauret accurately...

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!


Anonymous said...

Mike, actually the new weapons package does have some new/interesting things in it, specially the HARM missiles, JSOWs and Mark 48 torpedoes. It doesn't appear that these have been sold previously.

Whilst they're not very significant, they're helpful items to have. Much like the previous sales of Javelin missiles (very effective against tanks and other vehicles), of which Taiwan now has 500+. Some of these low-dollar value items can be disproportionately useful.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous: I believe that Mark 48 torpedoes and HARM missiles have been sold to Taiwan before, but in smaller quantities. The JSOW wasn't sold to Taiwan before, though.

Anyway - the Overton Window and goalposts are really shifting. China is making more fuss over a $1.3 billion sale to Taiwan today than an $18 billion sale to Taiwan sixteen years ago. (My! sixteen years! has it been that long?)

Anonymous said...

"Note the second paragraph": it claims Beijing planted all sorts of false articles/fake news during the election here.<------The link is broken. It will not take the reader to the Gardian news article.

The actual study that explore the fake news regarding Tsai Ing-wen is the following:

Anonymous said...

So is the next meeting when Trump sits on Xi's lap and punks Taiwan again gonna be called "f--k Taiwan" month?

Anonymous said...

Here's the National Review's Dean Cheng in 2015 talking about the folly of Obama's arms sales to Taiwan and how it leaves TW vulnerable.

Now its 2017, Trump is pres and we're "striking at China".

Why does this page and the far right clown car praise Trump for the same actions it panned Obama for? Why that seems to be something an ideological rag would do?

Any ideas? I just can't imagine why!? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

BBC is now speculating that US is preparing war with China

Michael Turton said...

Why does this page and the far right clown car praise Trump for the same actions it panned Obama for? Why that seems to be something an ideological rag would do?

Any ideas? I just can't imagine why!? Anyone?

The answer to your idiotic question is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Joseph Bosco, former China country director in the office of the secretary of defense(2005-2006), advocates for US to dump Shanghai Communique

Anonymous said...

$1.4 billion is peanuts compared to what US used to sell to Taiwan back in Bush, Clinton days. Then the packages were $20 billion in size and included actual systems and equipment like planes and ships. This package is basically just ammunition for old systems. This is mostly symbolic for Trump just to poke China & to maybe say to Taiwan that we already sold you arms to stop talking about arms for the next 4 years. He is basically covered.

US doesnt even wanna sell any new planes or other equipments anymore. China has been very successful in reducing real meaningful arms sales. Future of taiwan is grim.