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U.S. arms sales to Taiwan should continue: ex-White House official

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan should continue: ex-White House official

Washington, Dec. 1 (CNA) The United States should continue to sell arms to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, but the sales should be based on actual security needs, a former White House official said Tuesday.

Michael Green, former senior director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council under the White House, said it is pretty clear that the threat from China "is growing, not diminishing, and we should do Taiwan arms sales."

"I think personally they should be based on a real assessment of the security requirements, not politics or symbolism," Green said at a forum on emerging U.S. security partnerships in Southeast Asia sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank.

He noted that what often happens is that systems get proposed or sold "because they're big and shiny and not necessarily what is needed for the defense of Taiwan."

Green sidestepped questions from CNA about how Washington will deal with protests from China whenever the U.S. sells arms to Taiwan, and or if amid disputes between Washington and Beijing on the East China Sea and other issues Washington might use arms sales to Taiwan to "rebalance" the triangular Taiwan-U.S.-China relationship?

But he did talk about a "dirty little secret" behind these arms sales decisions.

"As a general rule, the debate is not among the Asia experts in the government. As a general rule, the debate is between the Asia experts, at least in my experience, and secretaries of state who have other priorities and don't want to take this on with Beijing because they're working climate change or terrorism or whatever it is," he said.

"So, that's often missed when people look at these decisions, and they think there's this great debate. I think most Asia experts in government understand that we have a commitment; we have to be doing it the right way," he said. The Barack Obama administration last announced arms sales to Taiwan in 2011. (By Rita Cheng and Lilian Wu)

Updated : 2021-09-25 21:19 GMT+08:00