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Obama will have to deal soon with arms sales to Taiwan: scholars

Obama will have to deal soon with arms sales to Taiwan: scholars

Washington, Oct. 28 (CNA) U.S. President Barack Obama will soon have to face the issue of whether the U.S. should continue arms sales to Taiwan, after he visits Beijing in mid November, scholars in Washington said Wednesday.
Obama is scheduled to pay his first state visit to China on Nov.
15 after attending the Nov. 12-14 leaders summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Singapore.
At an academic colloquium in Washington, Alan Romberg, director of the East Asian Studies division of the Henry L. Stimson Center, speculated that Beijing will strongly protest if President Obama authorizes a new round of arms sales to Taiwan, even if the package does not include the high performance F-16C/Ds jet fighters that Taiwan is eager to acquire.
The worst reaction from China in the past was its suspension of military exchanges with the U.S. over Washington's decisions on arms sales to Taiwan, Romberg said at the seminar hosted by George Washington University's Center for Asian Studies.
However, it's uncertain how strong Beijing's protest would be this time, he added.
At the colloquium, titled U.S. Policy Directions on Taiwan, another panelist, National Defense University professor Bernard Cole, estimated that President Obama would have to deal with the arms sales issue in 2010 at the latest.
However, Cole said, the most worrying factors would be the Taiwan leadership's apparent lack of interest in modernizing the island's military and the impact of an aging society on the Taiwan armed forces.
Another panelist, Georgetown University professor Nancy Tucker, said she noticed that there are voices in Taiwan arguing against spending a fortune to acquire weapons now that cross-Taiwan Strait relations have improved under President Ma Ying-jeou's administration.
Others in Taiwan are worried that improved cross-strait ties may lead Washington to become too complacent (about cross-strait ties) to sell weapon systems to Taiwan, Tucker added.
She said the Pentagon will probably not consider selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan, but in reality, the Taiwan Air Force does not have many choices in its efforts to acquire more advanced fighters to maintain its defense capability. The F-16C/Ds are one of the options, she said.
The scholars agreed that the Obama administration should continue to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
On one hand, this would demonstrate the United States' commitment to Taiwan, and on the other would avoid criticism of President Ma by Taiwan's opposition parties, they said.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed in 1979 after Washington severed formal diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing, the U.S. guarantees defensive arms sales to Taiwan.
The U.S. Defense Department notified Congress on Oct. 3, 2008 of its approval of a US$6.46 billion arms package to Taiwan, which includes Apache attack helicopters, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, Javelin anti-tank missiles and sea-launched Harpoon missiles, as well as an upgrade of the E-2T aircraft to the Hawkeye 2000 configuration, along with related support equipment.
The approved package, however, does not include the diesel-electric submarines, Black Hawk helicopters and F-16C/Ds that Taiwan was seeking.
(By Zep Hu and Deborah Kuo)




Updated : 2021-05-10 00:37 GMT+08:00