A new study sends a clear message to president Obama: The US should sell Taiwan the F-16 fighters it has requested:
“However frightening or seductive China is, appeasing it by sacrificing Taiwan would not be good policy,” said Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, a professor at Georgetown University, and Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow and China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Their joint paper, titled Should the United States Abandon Taiwan?, has just been published by the CSIS journal, the Washington Quarterly.
It comes as the administration of US President Barack Obama is nearing a decision on the sale of the fighters.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said that the decision will be announced by Oct. 1.
“The US should neither abandon nor reduce its commitments to Taiwan, but strengthen them,” the authors wrote.
“A decision to jettison Taiwan, or even cut back significantly on US support, would prove to an increasingly confident China that Washington has become weak, vacillating and unreliable,” they said.
At least in part, the study is in response to a growing chorus of critics in Washington who have called on the White House to stop supporting Taiwan to better promote relations with Beijing.
Abandoning Taiwan could simplify and improve US-China relations temporarily, but in the longer run Beijing would conclude that a weaker US, lacking vision and ambition, could be pressured and manipulated, they said.
“Both friends and rivals regionally and globally would decide that the US was not to be trusted,” they said.
Tucker and Glaser urged Obama to “stop equivocating” and move forward with arms sales now because “there will never be a good time.”
“Upgrading existing aircraft would be welcome, but Taiwan’s aging and shrinking air force also needs new planes. Were the US to wait and the F-16C/D production line to close, Taiwan would have no other source,” they said.
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The entire study can be downloaded here
The CSIS study comes almost simultaneously with a Pentagon report outlining the risks of China´s expanding military:
The reach and capability of China’s navy and air force are expanding, posing a growing risk to security in Asia, military officials say.
A new aircraft carrier that began sea trials this summer and the public test flight in January of an advanced fighter jet designed to rival U.S. technology are just two examples of China’s growing military might, U.S. officials say.
China’s new focus on air, naval and missile capabilities reflects its desire for greater mobility to conduct operations at a greater distance from its mainland.
That’s according to a new 84-page Pentagon report outlining some of the latest intelligence on the Chinese military.
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Economically the US is now weak, but that is not a good excuse for giving up its support for traditional allies like Taiwan in order to appease China´s authoritarian, communist leaders. Such an appeasement would perhaps appear to bring some short term benefits, but in the long term it would lead to a fatal loss of trust for US leadership all over the world.