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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. will not to stop arms sales to Taiwan because of China: expert

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/13 20:37:48

Washington Jan. 12 (CNA) An expert on cross-Taiwan Strait affairs said Tuesday that the United States is expected to announce an arms sales deal with Taiwan in few months although a negative reaction from China would be unavoidable.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior research fellow with the Washington- based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) , told reporters after attending a seminar on cross-strait affairs that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has maintained a steady commitment to Taiwan's security, in line with the Taiwan Relations Act, and has pledged to continue arms sales to the island following the April 2001 and October 2008 deals.

The Obama administration, however, has not been able to finalize the arms deals with Taiwan during its first year in office since its priority has been to build better relations with China.

Now that the task of forging closer Washington-Beijing ties is well on track, President Obama is expected to focus on other agendas, including arms deals with Taiwan and meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Glaser said.

A negative Chinese reaction to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would be predictable, Glaser said, adding that the U.S. would not suspend its arms sales to Taiwan because of threats from China, although Washington is sure to seek to minimize any negative impact.

The major U.S. concern, Glaser said, would be the timing of the arms deal announcement.

China could retaliate against the Taiwan arms deal by postponing, but not cancelling, Chinese President Hu Jintao's return visit to the U.S., after President Obama's trip to China late last year, Glaser said.

If the Taiwan arms deal is announced in two to three months time, President Hu might also refuse to take part in the Nuclear Security Summit scheduled to be held in Washington, April, she added.

She said that the scale of China's reaction could be similar to that after former U.S. President George W. Bush announced the last weapons deal with Taiwan in October 2008.

Beijing suspended military exchange programs with the U.S. for six months and halted regular strategic dialogue after the 2008 arms deal.

If China chooses to again put on hold bilateral military exchanges and dialogue, it would not be for more than six months, since those kinds of exchanges are in the interest of both sides, she said.

The only difference might be that China would also impose sanctions on the companies that are contracted to supply the weapons to Taiwan, Glaser said.

On whether the Obama government would exclude from the deal the F-16 C/D fighters that Taiwan is eager to acquire, Glaser said that U.S. officials have made it clear that no options will be excluded and that the weapons deal will be decided on the basis of Taiwan's needs.

She said that the U.S. government will evaluate whether Taiwan is in actual need of the fighters and will discuss the matter with Taiwan. Glaser said that China's concerns would be a factor in U.S.

decision making, but would not be the only factor and would not be decisive. (By Jorge Liu & Bear Lee) ENDITEM/pc

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