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Senator proposes routine US arms sales to Taiwan once every two years

Making weapons sales on regular basis will dissuade China from politicizing them, says Sen. Cory Gardner

Senator Cory Gardner (Screen grab from NBR video)

Senator Cory Gardner (Screen grab from NBR video)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The U.S. Senator from Colorado, Cory Gardner, speaking at a forum in Washington D.C. on June 18, called for the U.S. to make routine arms sales to Taiwan, proposing a single bulk weapons deal with the country every two years.

Gardner made the proposal during his opening keynote address at the 2019 Asia Policy Assembly, which was hosted by the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). Gardner argued that normalizing sales will keep them from becoming politicized.

His remarks on the politicization of arms sales to Taiwan come days after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article casting uncertainty on a recently approved US$2.6 billion dollar deal to sell Taiwan tanks and defensive missile systems.

The WSJ, reporting unnamed sources, claims the Trump White House is divided over whether or not to go through with the deal, which was announced in early June, over fears that Chinese President Xi Jinping may use it as a pretext to stall trade negotiations with the U.S.

Voice of America reports that Gardner supports regular arms sales to Taiwan because he believes this is the obligation of the U.S. as outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act and, more recently, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act passed on Dec. 31, 2018.

Gardner pointed out that when arms sales to Taiwan have been sporadic, with many years between sales, there is a higher likelihood that China will make a fuss and thus politicize the issue unnecessarily.

Making arm sales more regular, with one guaranteed sale every two years, will increase Taiwan’s sense of assurance in its relations with the U.S. and help maintain the country’s robust defenses against the existential threat that China poses to Taiwan's democratic society.