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TMFMmbop (28.72)

Was Selling Weapons to Taiwan the Right Decision?



February 05, 2010 – Comments (12)

You may have read about the latest U.S. weapon sales to Taiwan, which, as always, angered China, a country that continues to claim Taiwan as its own. A logical question is why are we going out of our way to annoy an emerging world power that owns a significant amount of our debt?

Leaving aside China's party line position, analysts on this side of the Pacific are almost unanimous that selling weapons to Taiwan was the right decision. Here was Michael Chase writing on the subject for World Politics Review:

U.S. support for Taiwan's security, including arms sales like those announced on Friday, remains vital for three reasons. First, it provides Taiwan with the confidence it needs to pursue a more pragmatic policy toward China without fear of being bullied into compromising its core interests by an increasingly powerful neighbor. Second, it discourages China from attempting to coerce Taiwan with the threat of force, not only by strengthening Taiwan's defense, but also by underscoring the continued relevance of America's longstanding commitment to Taiwan's security. Third, it strengthens the credibility of Washington's commitments to its other regional friends and allies, especially Japan and South Korea.

And then here is the POV from The Economist:

Two dangers arise from this loss of Western self-confidence. One is of trying to placate China. The delay in Mr Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in order to smooth his visit to China in November gave too much ground, as well as turning an issue of principle into a bargaining chip. America needs to stand firmer. Beefing up the deterrent capacity of Taiwan, which China continues to threaten with hundreds of missiles, is in the interests of peace. Mr Obama should therefore proceed with the arms sales and European governments should back him. If American companies, such as Boeing, lose Chinese custom for political reasons, European firms should not be allowed to supplant them.

On the other hand the West should not be panicked into unnecessary confrontation. Rather than ganging up on China in an effort to “contain” it, the West would do better to get China to take up its share of the burden of global governance. Too often China wants the power due a global giant while shrugging off the responsibilities, saying that it is still a poor country. It must be encouraged to play its part.

China is an immature power, and I agree the U.S. needs to stand up to it because it is not yet a tier 1 global power. That said, it's certainly on its path to getting there, so it will be important going forward to maintain open lines of communication and foster good relations. For one, that means that candidates standing for election should not try to make China an enemy in their rhetoric, which I hear all too often -- whether its stealing jobs or whatever.

Your thoughts?

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 05, 2010 at 12:37 PM, kirkydu (90.50) wrote:

Balance of Power. 

Offsets the weapons China sells to Venezuela.

Fantastic decision.

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#2) On February 05, 2010 at 12:52 PM, djkumquat (38.93) wrote:

kirkydu - beat me to it.

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#3) On February 05, 2010 at 12:57 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

I think selling weapons to Taiwan is a great idea. I think we should sell them two first line nuclear powered attack subs. That would turn a PRC invasion into the mother of all  "sink-exes". (A sink-ex is when a surplus ship is sunk by a sub in a live fire drill.) 

The PRC has to maintain the fiction that Taiwan is a rebellious province because an emperor who loses a province is ridiculed forever. Maintaining that fiction is fine. Doing something about it is not.

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#4) On February 05, 2010 at 1:29 PM, Tacomatight (66.32) wrote:

This is a tricky situation and has been for over a half century. A little history to help frame the debate for those who's China history is a little rusty:

America's relationship with Taiwan (Nationalist Gov. i.e. Chiang Kai Check) began in WWII. The Nationalist Gov. was in control of China at the time of the Japanese invasion. So the US gov. began to fund the nationalists with money and arms to counter the Japanese. During WWII the Nationalists were also fighting a civil war with the Communists (enter Mao). After the defeat of Axis Powers the Nationalists and Communists were able to focus on eachother full-time, which led to a Communist victory (Mao takes over).

The Nationalists then fled to Taiwan so as they wouldn't get wiped out on the mainland. The Americans assisted in the evac. and funded the Nationalists with various forms of aid including weapons. Now Mao wasn't recognized by the Americans and Chiang and the Nationalists were just waiting to try and come back and take out the Commies. That never happened.

So basically things have stayed that way ever since...except that Taiwanese gov. doesn't claim to have the right to the mainland anymore.

So arms sails to Taiwan (the nationalists) has really been going on for 50+ years. So what's the big fuss with China these days you may ask? I'll explain their side best I can.

The closest analogy I can come up with for an American to understand would be the US Civil War. Imagine if the South was defeated, but instead of total capitulation they kept the confederacy alive in Florida and the North wasn't able to take it back. So the South then set up the confederate gov. with the capital in Orlando.

The North would hate it because they were never able to wipe out the rebels and the rebels were yelling about dixie from florida...this made the north really nervous because they feared the Union breaking apart. Well then come the British and they decide to support ol' Dixie and basically gurantee arms sales and supplies to keep it alive.

This is more or less similar to what happened with China and Taiwan. Only it didn't happen 150 years ago it happened 50 years ago.

Anway, I just wanted to drop that in to help the debate...hope it was interesting.

-Tacoma Tight

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#5) On February 05, 2010 at 1:31 PM, BeOpenMinded (< 20) wrote:

If we want to treat China as our enemy or want to turn China into an enemy, we can keep on selling weapons to Taiwan. Otherwise, we shall take a serious effort to reduce the arms sales as we agreed with the Chinese in one of the communiques about 30 years ago. To me, making a friend, especially a growing power like China, is a better strategy in the long run.

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#6) On February 05, 2010 at 1:56 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

BeOpenMinded - Nations don't have friends. They only have interests. China and the US can work together when their interests align and in opposition when they are at cross-purposes. Sentimental thinking about geopolitics is not a good idea.

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#7) On February 05, 2010 at 1:59 PM, ralphmachio (< 20) wrote:

Since the arms race began, we have been searching for ways to wage war without launching missiles, or invasion of troops. The economy has become the new way to wage war.  (I don't even want to touch upon the EMF technology that we're all using against one another, as it is still classified, so having an argument based on it is nearly futile) 

The worst case scenario is that we are preparing to use conventional and non-conventional weapons to start conflicts between 'unwilling satellite' countries and their un-rightful conquistadors.  

 And I like the sound of BeOpenMinded's point, but it is seen from a different perspective if we realize that our past 6 decades of prosperity was based on not sharing somethings that the rest of the world now want a piece of.  We will need to be irrational if we wish to maintain an irrational amount of the worlds power wealth and resources.   

I wish we could be more satisfied from internal stimuli, rather than external, and then we could have peace, but this is probably the last place I will find a majority who will agree.

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#8) On February 05, 2010 at 2:07 PM, NOTvuffett (< 20) wrote:

Probably shouldn't pull a tiger's tail, or poke a sleeping bear, lol.

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#9) On February 05, 2010 at 2:07 PM, ETFsRule (< 20) wrote:

I think it's a good idea, because we need all the money we can get. The political reasons are secondary.

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#10) On February 05, 2010 at 2:09 PM, ralphmachio (< 20) wrote:

Sentimental thinking about geopolitics is our evolutionary challenge. The question is, are we being corralled into major conflict to catalyze this process? There are plenty of people out there who just don't see what's at stake. What will it take to demonstrate?

 When Billy Bob from Texas and Abdul from Yemen can realize their connection, without ever coming into physical contact, it will be clear that we have been just fighting ourselves the whole time. 

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#11) On February 05, 2010 at 3:14 PM, StoneFX (97.51) wrote:

I doubt continuing to sell arms to Taiwan would make China our enemy. They may become a frenemy (someone who doesn't like you, but still hangs out with you for their own sake). China relies too heavily on the US market for it's own economic health. Taiwan is small potatoes compared to that. Besides, China knows their military is still decades behind the U.S.

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#12) On February 05, 2010 at 7:05 PM, forrreeel (< 20) wrote:

Selling weapons to Taiwan is a terrible idea in my opinion. Do you believe a handful of weapons can make a difference at the negotiation table? Keep telling yourself that if you really believe it.

This is simply the US (as usual) meddling in the affairs of other countries and flexing its military might. The world has seen the destruction of war that the US has incited on other countries. When will so-called advance countries like the US realize that these are different times?

It is inevitable that Taiwan will return to China simply because of greed. The Taiwan people as well as many Americans are starting to see the growth potential in China, and the corruptions at home. China has a long way to go but clearly they are moving at 300 mph. I love the US but I'm betting on China. 

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