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Latest U.S. arms sale not enough to defend Taiwan: WSJ

Latest U.S. arms sale not enough to defend Taiwan: WSJ

The latest package of U.S. weapons to be sold to Taiwan is not enough for the island's defense, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in its Opinion section Monday.

The U.S. government on Dec. 16 approved a US$1.83 billion arms package to Taiwan and has notified Congress of the proposed sale, which includes two Perry-class frigates, 12 AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles, and Stinger missiles.

Washington approved the deal after a four-year hiatus in its weapons sales to Taiwan, the longest break since the establishment of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

Considering that the past two sales in 2010 and 2011 involved a total US$12.25 billion in arms, it might be concluded that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to exclude Taiwan from its pivot to Asia, according to the article, titled Punting on Taiwan's Security.

The current arms deal does not include cutting-edge weapons, such as upgraded F-16 fighters, which Taiwan could use to defend its 23 million people, according to the article.

It said U.S. Senators John McCain and Ben Cardin, among others, have made bipartisan calls for the sale of F-16 fighters to Taiwan, but after years of refusal by Washington, Taiwan has all but given up on that request.

Of greater concern is Washington's refusal to help Taiwan acquire submarines, the article said, noting that U.S. President George W. Bush promised to sell Taiwan the submarines in 2001 but did not follow through.

The U.S.' refusal to supply Taiwan with those submarines is one reason why China's response to the current deal has been relatively muted, the WSJ said.

China has denounced the recent weapons sale decision as interference in its "internal affairs" and has threatened unspecified sanctions against the U.S. arms dealers involved, the WSJ noted.

However, China has not cut ties with the U.S. military, as it did for 10 months after the 2010 arms sale, or limited its cooperation on other Obama administration projects such as climate-change talks, the article said.

It also noted that two years ago Taiwan's Ministry of Defense projected that by 2020 China would have the capability to successfully invade Taiwan and prevent U.S. forces from coming to the island's defense, given China's continued modernization of its military.

The Taiwan Relations Act requires the U.S. to "make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability," the WSJ noted.

It will be up to the next presidents of both countries to ensure those words mean something, according to the article. (By Timothy Huang and Evelyn Kao)


Updated : 2021-09-27 03:47 GMT+08:00