U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will backfire on Washington

China Plus Published: 2019-08-22 22:33:04
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Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs".

China has warned that if Washington continues with its plan to sell 66 F-16 fighters and associated equipment to Taiwan, Beijing will take all of the measures necessary to defend its core interests, including imposing sanctions on the American companies involved.

An F-16 fighter pictured at the Singapore Airshow 2014. [File Photo: VCG]

An F-16 fighter pictured at the Singapore Airshow 2014. [File Photo: VCG]

The statement from Beijing followed an announcement by the U.S. Defense Department that it had officially notified Congress of the 8 billion U.S. dollar arms package. China has called the arms deal a serious violation of international law and the basic norms governing international relations, and warned that Washington will pay the price for interfering in China's internal affairs and undermining its sovereignty and security.

Arms sales to Taiwan are a sticking point in bilateral ties. According to the three China-U.S. joint communiques that are the foundation of bilateral relations, the United States recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal representative of China, and that Taiwan is part of China. One of the three documents, known as the 817 Communique, which was signed in 1982, stipulates that Washington must gradually reduce its arms sales to Taiwan, until the Taiwan issue is fundamentally resolved. But Washington, through the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act, keeps providing military support to the island.

The Trump administration has taken the issue a step further. In its recently-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020, Washington decided to support continued arms sales in Taiwan. After announcing a 2.22 billion U.S. dollar arms package for the island, Washington put forward its offer for the 66 F-16s – the largest single arms sale proposed between the United States and Taiwan in years. This sale poses a serious threat to China-U.S. relations and the security situation across the Taiwan Straits.

This arms deal is a way for the Trump administration to cater to the interests of American arms dealers and make headlines for giving foreign trade an 8 billion U.S. dollar boost. It's also a transparent attempt to press Beijing for concessions in the ongoing trade negotiations, which have seen Washington come under pressure as a result of China's countermeasures. But Beijing is not interested in having unrelated political issues dragged into the trade talks, which are complicated enough. And besides, the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity - it is not a chip to be bartered in trade negotiations.

The arms sale to Taiwan has nothing but downsides. It would cause deterioration in the security situation of the island, and the wider region. The multi-billion dollar deal would also be a substantial burden on the island's economy, which is expected to grow by less than 2.1 percent this year. And Washington's betrayal of the One China principle damages its own international credibility.

China will not stand by and watch the United States make Taiwan a pawn in its efforts to contain the country's development. Taiwan's future relies on reunification with the mainland, and the nation's unity and rejuvenation. Any attempt by the United States to contain China by playing the Taiwan card will backfire.

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LU Xiankun Professor LU Xiankun is Managing Director of LEDECO Geneva and Associate Partner of IDEAS Centre Geneva. He is Emeritus Professor of China Institute for WTO Studies of the University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) and Wuhan University (WHU) of China and visiting professor or senior research fellow of some other universities and think tanks in China and Europe. He also sits in management of some international business associations and companies, including as Senior Vice President of Shenzhen UEB Technology LTD., a leading e-commerce company of China. Previously, Mr. LU was senior official of Chinese Ministry of Commerce and senior diplomat posted in Europe, including in Geneva as Counsellor and Head of Division of the Permanent Mission of China to the WTO and in Brussels as Commercial Secretary of the Permanent Mission of China to the EU. Benjamin Cavender Benjamin Cavender is a Shanghai based consultant with more than 11 years of experience helping companies understand consumer behavior and develop go to market strategies for China. He is a frequent speaker on economic and consumer trends in China and is often featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, and Channel News Asia. Sara Hsu Sara Hsu is an associate professor from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She is a regular commentator on Chinese economy. Xu Qinduo Xu Qinduo is CRI's former chief correspondent to Washington DC, the United States. He works as the producer, host and commentator for TODAY, a flagship talk show on current affairs. Mr. Xu contributes regularly to English-language newspapers including Shenzhen Daily and Global Times as well as Chinese-language radio and TV services. Lin Shaowen A radio person, Mr. Lin Shaowen is strongly interested in international relations and Chinese politics. As China is quite often misunderstood in the rest of the world, he feels the need to better present the true picture of the country, the policies and meanings. So he talks a lot and is often seen debating. Then friends find a critical Lin Shaowen criticizing and criticized. George N. Tzogopoulos Dr George N. Tzogopoulos is an expert in media and politics/international relations as well as Chinese affairs. He is Senior Research Fellow at the Centre International de Européenne (CIFE) and Visiting Lecturer at the European Institute affiliated with it and is teaching international relations at the Department of Law of the Democritus University of Thrace. George is the author of two books: US Foreign Policy in the European Media: Framing the Rise and Fall of Neoconservatism (IB TAURIS) and The Greek Crisis in the Media: Stereotyping in the International Press (Ashgate) as well as the founder of chinaandgreece.com, an institutional partner of CRI Greek. David Morris David Morris is the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Commissioner in China, a former Australian diplomat and senior political adviser. Harvey Dzodin After a distinguished career in the US government and American media Dr. Harvey Dzodin is now a Beijing-based freelance columnist for several media outlets. While living in Beijing, he has published over 200 columns with an emphasis on arts, culture and the Belt & Road initiative. He is also a sought-after speaker and advisor in China and abroad. He currently serves as Nonresident Research Fellow of the think tank Center for China and Globalization and Senior Advisor of Tsinghua University National Image Research Center specializing in city branding. Dr. Dzodin was a political appointee of President Jimmy Carter and served as lawyer to a presidential commission. Upon the nomination of the White House and the US State Department he served at the United Nations Office in Vienna, Austria. He was Director and Vice President of the ABC Television in New York for more than two decades.