Saturday 22 Sep 2018 | 11:20 | SYDNEY
Saturday 22 Sep 2018 | 11:20 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Arms to Taiwan


Malcolm Cook

6 November 2008 09:59

Jo Gilbert, a PhD candidate at the Griffith Asia Institute, writes in response to my post on US-Taiwan relations:

 I am just wondering where the United States' $6.5 billion arms sale to Taiwan fits into your analysis? 

Thanks for your question, Jo. Three points come to my mind when thinking about the links between the recent arms sale and better US-Taiwan relations under the new KMT government:

  1. The largest impediment to the arms sale before Ma’s victory was not US unwillingness to sell arms to Taiwan but the KMT’s use of its control of the Legislative Yuan to block the sale, despite US pressure. The major barrier to the arms sale was Taiwan domestic politics. While in opposition, the KMT was willing to hinder Taiwan-US relations for their own domestic political gain.
  2. The fact that Washington was willing to push the arms sale through before the end of Bush’s term is a sign of continuity in US-Taiwan relations and the US definition of the status quo. This is of central importance to Taiwan and probably gives Ma more space to push closer economic ties with China.
  3. The fact the deal was approved after the Olympics and was smaller than the original, long-delayed one, may reinforce the point that US-Taiwan relations take place within the larger picture of US-China relations. Luckily, Ma seems to be responding to this powerful strategic reality better than Chen Shui-bian did.