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  • Obama's Taiwan Blunder Is Fool's Gold For China

    President Obama hosted a “townhall” meeting in Shanghai, accepting questions from his Chinese audience. One questioner gave Obama the opening to discuss the prospect of arms sales to Taiwan, an issue that is sure to arise when the President meets with Hu Jintao in Beijing.

    Unfortunately, rather than forthrightly stating that the United States, in line with longstanding policy and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), was prepared to sell Taiwan defensive weapons, President Obama said nothing at all. Instead, he chose to dodge the question, noting that the US favored “dialogue and negotiations.”

    The problem is that this answer does nothing to promote cross-Straits reductions in tensions. It is likely to mislead Beijing into thinking that the United States will forego arms sales—a dangerous impression to leave the Chinese leadership. At the same time, it is also likely to raise questions in Taipei about American willingness to abide by its commitments to Taiwan’s security—hardly a means of promoting Taiwan’s confidence in dealing with the mainland.

    Worst of all, Taiwan’s ability to deter the PRC is steadily atrophying, as their air force ages. Taiwan has now repeatedly raised the subject of purchasing F-16 C/Ds, and will undoubtedly do so again. Should the United States decide to proceed with the sale, Obama’s misleading silence is more likely to engender anger from Beijing (which is likely to have interpreted his non-answer as a negative), making US-Chinese cooperation that much more difficult on future issues.

    In this case, silence is not golden.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Obama's Taiwan Blunder Is Fool's Gold For China

    1. J. A. (U.S.A.) says:

      I disagree. I think its smart to hide his position so he could later use weapons sales as a negotiating chip for upcoming issues with China.

      China has used negotiating chips with the U.S. for decades. We all know about Richard Nixon pulling U.S. troops out of Taiwan just to get China to stop supporting the North Vietnamese. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=950&dat

      China learned a long time ago that the international problems it creates or supports can be used for negotiating. We have seen that with Vietnam, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Maoist rebels, etc..

      (11/8/2009) China supplying arms to Maoists: India

    2. Doc Hilliard says:

      No rational person really expected Mr Obama to tell the truth all of a sudden, did they. Mr Obama may be as personally popular as a rock star, but sadly his comprehension of reality is all that really compates to a stoned rock star, and that fact may wind up killing us all long before he causes the USA to sink beneath the level of a bananna republic. But that is his aim, it is no accident that his policies damage the USA and its Constitution.

    3. TruthBuster, Va, says:

      Our president is a total JOKE!!!!!! If only AIRFOFCE 1 could just leave them in China, we would all be better off.

    4. What??, Connecticut says:

      This is a huge mistake. Taiwan's independence relies in part on both China and Taiwan being confident that the US and other world powers will freak out if China makes a move against Taiwan. If Taiwan feels that it has no international support the inevitable consequence will be a political submission to mainland China. China will take Taiwan without a ship or shot. We may be hopelessly tied to China economically, but do we really want their government running the world?

    5. Evan, Washington says:

      Obama's rationale here is way off mark – he imagines that improved relations across the strait mean that Taiwan doesn't have any need for continued defense. Worst of all, he's afraid of upsetting China, which is IMO plain shameful.

      The US has nothing to fear from China, except maybe that our Walmarts will empty out. If that's a sacrifice we're willing to make (I know I am, bring back domestic production!) then we don't need to worry about the adverse effect on China-US relations stemming from F-16C/D sales to Taiwan.

      Seriously, China has over 1000 missiles targeting Taiwan, this merits some defensive capabilities, and the Obama administration is technically required BY ACT OF CONGRESS to authorize sales of defensive weapons – why not give them something they can actually use (like 150 F-16C/D fighters)?

    6. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Taiwan cannot stop the CHICOMS if they really want to take over Taiwan.

      The CHICOMS do not want to destroy Taiwan. They want it intact like Hong Kong, but under their control. The CHICOMS are becoming better capitalists than us, the businesses and people are ALLOWED to get rich, if they can, as long as the STATE gets their cut. Of course, anyone in China can see their fortune and life confiscated if they do not play ball.

      The only thing keeping Taiwan safe is U.S. support. How long U.S. support remains in the equation is the "trillion" dollar question.

      We have made the CHICOMS our national banker and lender of last resort. Thanks to all the congress people and senators, past and present, who have enabled this to happen.

      It is THEIR FAULT and hopefully there will be a nice hot place for them in the afterlife.

    7. Pingback: On the Foreign Front « Pond’rings

    8. Benjamin,Taiwan says:

      The timing of the F-16C/D sale is becoming awkward. Had this sale been undertaken in 2006 or 2007 (where the delivery of the F-16s might be taking place this year or next,) it would have been one thing.

      But by now, the delivery of the F-16s – even if approved this year – would likely not take place before 2014 at the earliest. Given a service life of 25 years, it would be around 2040 when these jets were retired. In 2040, F-16s would be wildly outclassed in the air.

      Any more delay on Obama's part, and the conversation in Taiwan will turn to fighters that the US would be even less willing to sell – F-15Es, F-15SEs, F-16 Block 60/70s, or even the Super Hornet or F-35.

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