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Arms sale to Taiwan no longer US 'trump card'

By Chen Hu (Xinhua)

08:55, August 10, 2011

Despite Taiwan's repeated bids to buy F-16C/D air fighters from the United States, the United States has privately told Taiwan not to submit related purchase bids any more, according to a report by a Taiwan-based media agency. In other words, the United States has rejected Taiwan’s purchase offer.

Although the report has yet to be confirmed by authorities, it largely shows a new trend for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Both the United States and Taiwan used to be very active when it came to the arms sales to Taiwan. Particularly, the United States sometimes even imposed some pressure on Taiwan for the purchase of certain arms. Given the generally known situation, it is difficult to understand why the United States has unexpectedly appeared to be low profile.

Taiwan's media agencies have given two reasons: one is the change in China-U.S. relations and the other is Taiwan lacks enthusiasm to purchase arms.

According to the reports by Taiwan-based media agencies, this arms purchase project has not been listed in Taiwan's annual budget, meaning no funds to purchase F-16C/D air fighters. Thus, even if the United States agrees to sell, they will not secure payment. Therefore, Taiwan-based media agencies speculate that the two reasons have led the United States to reject Taiwan's requests for the purchase of F-16 air fighters.

The two explanations provided by the Taiwan media are fairly reasonable.

Taiwan card losing effectiveness

Arms sales to Taiwan have been a "trump card" of the United States to exert pressure on China since the early 1990s. China has repeatedly expressed protest against the persistent moves of the United States to sell arms to the island, but such protests seldom work. Then why did it refuse Taiwan's arms request this time?

The key lies in the superpower's new Asia strategy.

Taiwan has long been a "trump card" of the United States to manage relations with China. However, the card has started to lose effectiveness due to the progress made in cross-strait relations. Furthermore, the United States is unwilling to sell arms to the island at the expense of its positive relations with China.

In fact, the United States has always wanted more "trump cards" to contain China. As the Taiwan card is increasingly losing effectiveness, it is making active efforts to use new "trump cards," such as the disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea to contain China.

It can give a partial explanation but does not essentially explain why the United States is so humble regarding the issue of selling weapons to the Taiwan Province of China.

The fundamental reason is actually that the great progress of the Chinese mainland's national defense technologies has made the United States' action of selling weapons to Taiwan more or less meaningless.

Twenty years ago, the Untied States could obtain a several-birds-with-one-stone effect by selling weapons to Taiwan. Since it could obtain strategic, diplomatic and economic benefits by doing it, its willingness to promote arms sales to Taiwan was extremely high. At that time, Taiwan was also willing to purchase the weapons to obtain the so-called "feeling of safety." And that's an important reason why Taiwan always actively asked for the Untied States to sell it weapons.

Now, 20 years have passed and the situation has completely changed. Although the F-16 C/D fighters are more advanced than the F-16 A/B fighters, they still belong to the third generation. Compared with the fighter planes independently developed by the Chinese mainland, F-16 C/D fighters do not have any technical advantages.

In a word, the key reason why the Untied States has become humble regarding the issue is because of the progress of China's national defense technologies. The issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan is actually an old issue for China. We the Chinese have always been strongly opposed to this and have expressed our attitude through all the channels we could use but did not achieve any effective result.

Now, the progress of China's national defense technologies has achieved a result that all our efforts did not achieve in the past. Therefore, for many international political, strategic and military issues, the role played by the progress of national defense technologies is often very important.


Leave your comment23 comments

  1. Name

Ching Chang Chung at 2011-09-13118.168.220.*
Why Chinese mainland so afraid of Taiwan? I would be embarassed to have a government scarred of Taiwan.
PD User at 2011-08-2946.21.144.*
Great site, great reporting. Keep on going
PD User at 2011-08-2946.21.144.*
Great site, great reporting. Keep on going
PD User at 2011-08-29108.8.117.*
How can Taiwan be left drifting like an orphan?
Sun Zhong de sun zi at 2011-08-28220.255.1.*
You are absolutely correct. China must strive to equal the USA in military strength and technology. Such as anti aircraft carrier missiles, anti-submarines, anti-UAV bombers, anti-stealth planes, anti-Electronic warfare, anti-Cyber warfare and anti-satelites.All these maesures and efforts will keep the USA dominance and hegemony in Asia and Pacific region near China"s coastal regions, including Taiwan Province. Jia you.

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