US Christmas Arms Sale Of $1.83 Billion To Taiwan

By Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Nicholas J. Spykman the geopolitical analyst introduced the “Rim Land theory”. He explains that throughout history states have engaged in circumferential and transmarine expansion to gain control of adjacent seas.

Historically- Greek expansion in Aegean, Rome in the Mediterranean sea and U.S. in the Caribbean and now we could witness China in South China Sea. The Chinese South China Sea claim is based on the ancient imperial Chinese territorial boundary.

South China Sea is a strategic hot spot. It holds the lock to China’s route to Indian Ocean as Caribbean unlocked the Pacific to the US from Panama Canal back then. The South China Sea is a gateway to the Indian Ocean- the world’s hydrocarbon deposit. China has already invested in many ports and raw material equities in Africa which needs protection. The highest priority will be to protect China’s sea lanes to Indian Ocean and build capacity in this regard.

China’s recent trade and contribution to the least developed nations has been fantastic-and can be seen as a great benefit for the entire global trade. President Xi in his recent visit to Africa pledged a $60billion. to African nations- this is something significant. China’s trade with ASEAN will reach $500billion this year and the agenda has already been set to reach up to $1 trillion by 2020.

The Malaysian industrial parks in China and Chinese industrial parks in Malaysia which are already built will contribute to achieve this target with further ASEAN nations building their capacity to boost trade with China. With all this economic progress the security situation will be tense in the South China Sea especially with Taiwan. One of the leading think tanks in the US, RAND states in a 2009 report U.S. will not be able to defend Taiwan by 2020. The Chinese military will be stronger and U.S. even with its Kadena Air base in Japan will not be able to win this battle. The tension has raised with the recent developments at the Taiwan straits. The Asian security situation is more complex now than the time of a unipolar world back then.

On December 10th two B52 Bombers fly over Chinese territory in South China Sea which China accused U.S. for violating international law and threatening China’s sovereignty. A few days ago U.S. sold arms to Taiwan. If not for the U.S. move to sell $1.83billion arms sale package to Taiwan, the China-U.S. relationship could have ended stronger and positive at year end. Specially after President Xi’s successful state visit in September to the U.S. discussing new models for the two countries and after some positive improvements in cyber security issues between the two nations. The positive engagement will move to a tense situation with arms sale. The move could be for two reasons first US Defense Department’s reports to Congress have warned every year that “preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment”.

Secondly – influencing the presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan scheduled for January 2016. According to President MaYing-jeou, the U.S. has sold a total of $18.3 billion worth of arms to Taiwan since he took office seven years ago. Myles Caggins the National Security Council spokesman says "Our longstanding policy on arms sales to Taiwan has been consistent across six different U.S. administrations,”. This position has to change as we live in a much more different time than six different administrations ago. We should find ways to strengthen US China relationship at this juncture as both nations should work together to fight many global threats.

The first arms sale was done by Obama administration in 2010 worth of $6.4billion, with 113 PAC-3 missile defense missiles and 60 Black Hawk helicopters. This time it includes two Perry-class Frigates, Javelin anti-tank missiles, TOW 2B anti-tank missiles, AAV-7 Amphibious Assault Vehicles, with follow-on work for Taiwan’s Syun-An C4ISR systems, Link 11/Link 16 for Taiwan’s naval ships, F-16 MIDS/NTAMS/Fuzes and Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems; and Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

By U.S. engaging weapon sales to Taiwan, it’s important to revisit the three joint communiqués with China promising that U.S. would gradually scale back and eventually stop its arms sale to Taiwan. This move will put lot of hard work done the entire year towards strengthening relationship between U.S. China to a serious tension at the beginning of 2016.Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang summoned Kaye Lee, the charge de’affairs at the U.S. embassy in Beijing stating “China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale.” The two companies in the arms deal are Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The sanctions won’t affect much as both companies have limited trade with China, but could impact military relationship between the two nations in future.

The present Taiwan economic relationship with China which has a 30% trade volume, 40% of exports going to China and more than ten thousand Taiwanese companies invested in China could also be affect in the future if the present tension continues.

© 2017 Asian Mirror (pvt) Ltd