Biden admin's 4th arms sales to Taiwan slammed, 'cannot pose threat to PLA, only makes island cash cow'

(Global Times) 10:38, June 10, 2022

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

China on Thursday slammed the US' approval of a possible sale of $120 million in naval equipment to the island of Taiwan, the latest move between the US and the island amid their growing exchanges, which observers from the mainland warned could only worsen the situation in the Taiwan Straits instead of enhancing the island's combat preparedness given the huge gap between the two sides across the Taiwan Straits.

The latest arms sales cannot pose a threat to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), and will only make the island of Taiwan a cash cow of the US, experts said.

China urged the US to abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US joint communiqués and cancel the arms sales to Taiwan and stop their military ties, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during a routine press conference on Thursday. He said that China will continue to take firm and forceful measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on the same day also refuted the sales, urging the US to stop playing with fire over the Taiwan question.

Zhao and Ma's remarks came after Taiwan's defense authority on Thursday announced the $120 million arms sale for "naval ship spare parts and related technical support." The department said that the sale is meant to help Taiwan keep its naval vessels properly equipped and replenished, and that the deal is expected to take effect next month.

This arms sale could contain a big category, which includes not only the replacement of hardware, but also the calibration of the relevant system and the training of personnel, Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Thursday.

The US will rake in enormous profits from the so-called maintenance, he said, noting that the island of Taiwan has purchased from the US second-hand military equipment whose performance was not good and whose maintenance cost will be very high.

Many of Taiwan's ships are old, and the main purpose of maintenance is to prolong their life, and there is no way to enhance their combat effectiveness, said Song. This means even after maintenance, they cannot pose a serious threat to the PLA, the expert pointed out.

It was reportedly the third arms sales by the US to the island this year as well as the fourth conducted by the Biden administration.

Given that the US has passed numerous bills, including the Taiwan Assurance Act, which calls for regular arms sales to Taiwan, this also shows that US arms sales to Taiwan region have been normalized, Song said.

As the situation across the Taiwan Straits continues to be tense, "Taiwan independence" forces and foreign forces are continuing their provocations, and regular arms sales can only create more uncertainty across the Straits, increasing the risk of a military conflict, Song warned.

US arms sales to the island of Taiwan are essentially used as the "Taiwan card" to contain the Chinese mainland, showing the US support to the separatist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority in the island and aggravating tensions across the Taiwan Straits, which is a step of the US' "Indo-Pacific Strategy." Also, the US can cash in on the island through arms sales, and make the regional authority more dependent on it, Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Zhang condemned the US, saying the country has claimed it adhered to the one-China policy but in fact has shown support for the separatist DPP in the island.

However, the gap in military strength between the island of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland is great, experts said, noting that US attempts to use the island to suppress the mainland by arming it is delusional.

Even if the sale was approved, how well it would progress is still in question, analysts said.

In May, the Taiwan defense authority announced that the first deal approved by the Biden administration in 2021 to sell $750 million worth of arms to Taiwan, including 40 155mm M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzers, had been halted by the US.

According to Taiwan news outlet udn.com, the pause in the howitzer sale means a complete cancelation, and the budget will be returned.

The latest arms sales plan came after the recent visit of US Senator Tammy Duckworth to the island, in which the island's regional leader Tsai Ing-wen said that a cooperation plan between the US National Guard and Taiwan's armed forces was in the works.

Around the time Duckworth left the Taiwan island, the PLA Eastern Theater Command on June 1 announced the third large-scale military exercise around the Taiwan in the past 30 days targeting the recent frequent US-Taiwan collusion.

Previously, a joint exercise surrounding the island of Taiwan from its east and southwest was announced on May 9, and a joint alert patrol plus a realistic combat drill in and above the waters around the island was announced on May 25.

The drills not only served as warnings to Taiwan secessionists and foreign interference forces, but also practically enhanced the PLA's capabilities in a potential reunification-by-force operation, analysts said.

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Hongyu)


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