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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Arms sales sign of renewed trust between Taiwan, U.S.: scholar

ROC Central News Agency

08/10/12 21:20:13

By Rachel Chan

Taipei, Oct. 12 (CNA) Washington's approval of a sale of advanced weapons to Taiwan is a symbol of initial efforts to rebuild trust between Taiwan and the United States, a noted American scholar said in Taipei Sunday.

The U.S. Defense Department notified Congress Oct. 3 that it had approved the sale of a US$6.46 billion package of weapons to Taiwan, which President Ma Ying-jeou lauded as "signaling an end to the turmoil of the past eight years and the beginning of a new era of safety and peace, as well as of mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S."

Bonnie Glaser, senior associate of the U.S. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) , said Washington would likely echo Ma's view.

"I think the U.S. will agree with President Ma that this notification that has been sent to the Congress symbolizes the beginning of rebuilding trust between the U.S. and Taiwan, "Glaser told the Central News Agency.

Glaser, in Taipei to attend an international forum on the triangular relations among Taipei, Washington and Beijing, said Taiwan was very unlikely to engage in negotiations with China as long as it remained in an insecure and vulnerable position.

The sale, Glaser said, was a signal from the U.S. to "ensure the confidence of people here and the administration, so they can deal with the mainland from a position of strength."

Many in Taiwan were concerned that approval of the arms package would be put off until a new administration took power in the U.S. next year, with government critics suggesting the long delay indicated poor relations between Ma's administration and the U.S. government.

But Glaser suggested that reaching a consensus in the U.S. on all of the items took time, and that the timing of the approval, which came after the regular congressional session had already ended, was also critical to the trilateral relations among Taiwan, China and the U.S.

"I think the U.S. just tried to, or at least took into account, some of the mainland's sensitivities on these issues,"she contended, saying there is never a good time to announce the arms sales from China's point of view because Beijing always opposes any sale of arms to Taiwan.

Glaser said it would have been especially bad timing from China's point of view if the notification of the sales came during the Beijing Olympic Games held in August.

"We do take into account certain factors because we would like to limit the damage on U.S.-Chinese ties and I think it's in Taiwan's interest for us to limit the damage to U.S.-Chinese ties, "Glaser said."So the issue is when, not whether."

The arms package includes 30 Apache attack helicopters, 330 Patriot PAC-3 missiles, 182 Javelin middle-range anti-tank missiles, 32 sea-launched Harpoon missiles, four E-2T aircraft system upgrades.

The U.S. did not, however, approve diesel-electric submarines and Black Hawk helicopters that Taiwan had sought.

The sales were made under the auspices of the Taiwan Relations Act, which authorizes the U.S. to sell defensive weapons needed by Taiwan to maintain a sound defense.

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