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China Arm-Twists U.S. To Aid Beijing Stranglehold On Taiwan

By | February 25, 2008

      Taiwan Should Join With U.S. Forces To Mount Missile Defense, Create Anti-Submarine Warfare Capabilities Against China

      Report Finds Free Taiwan Critical To U.S. Military, Other Interests

      The United States must shift from an ambiguous policy toward Taiwan to a stance telling China, in clear terms, that Washington won’t stand by idly if China invades Taiwan, an island with huge strategic and economic value to the United States.

      But for the moment, China is successfully pressuring Washington to aid Beijing in its moves to squeeze and isolate Taiwan.

      Rather, the United States instead should work with Taiwan to help the island government obtain air and missile defense capabilities, and to procure diesel submarines.

      So says a report by Dan Blumenthal, resident fellow in Asian studies with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative Washington think tank, and Randall Schriver, a founding partner of Armitage International LLC and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a defense-oriented Washington think tank.

      Their report is a work of the Taiwan Policy Working Group, a joint project of AEI and Armitage International, and was discussed at an AEI forum last week.

      Relations between Beijing and Washington have soured, the report stated, and "Washington has not found the proper balance among trying to pursue common interests with Beijing, secure Taiwan’s freedom and international profile, and pursue bilateral interests with Taiwan," the report asserted.

      Further, the report sees a downward spiral emerging.

      "Beijing has successfully pressured Washington to further its agenda of squeezing the island," the report found.

      Beijing has enormous clout because it is one of the largest U.S. trading partners, and manufactures stupendous amounts of the goods that major globalized corporations sell to American consumers. The U.S. trade deficit with China now is nearing about $300 billion a year, meaning the U.S. debt owed to China climbs by almost a third of a trillion dollars annually.

      As well, China is becoming a near-peer military competitor to the United States, buying cutting-edge fighter and bomber aircraft, advanced Russian Sovremenny destroyers, and eight classes of submarines including the Jin Class, a nuclear-powered boat with limitless range that can fire nuclear-tipped missiles almost 5,000 miles. That means a Chinese sub submerged in the Pacific Ocean could fire a missile that would strike Washington or New York City. China also has intercontinental ballistic missiles capable now of striking Alaska, Hawaii and the West Coast, and is moving to road-mobile missiles that could be launched from the Chinese mainland and strike targets throughout the United States.

      In another area, China has developed the capability to destroy any U.S. military or commercial satellite with ground-based missiles, or to disable American satellites using ground-based lasers. China also is developing cadres of cyberspace warriors, computer hackers who could create chaos in U.S. communications, business and financial operations.

      Taiwanese Backlash

      At the same time, Chinese moves to push Washington into pressuring Taiwan, in turn, have led to a hardening of the independent-minded position by the island government.

      "Taipei has responded by increasing its emphasis on its sovereignty," the report observed.

      And this downward spiral isn’t in the interests of the United States, it continues.

      "Allowing this dynamic to continue is inimical to U.S. interests," the report stated. "A broken dialogue increases the likelihood that what is now a dangerous situation will develop into an even more dangerous crisis."

      Taiwan has become steadily more resistant to being "reunified" with China, even as China says it will invade Taiwan if the island nations doesn’t submit, soon, to rule by Beijing.

      In that case, the United States would, nominally, be committed to aid Taiwan in resisting an invasion, although with 1,300 Chinese radar-guided missiles aimed toward Taiwan, it is questionable whether non-stealthy U.S. Navy ships such as aircraft carriers could enter the Taiwan Strait to defend the island against attack, without Chinese forces destroying them.

      Taiwan should be doing more, with U.S. assistance, to defend itself, the report continued.

      "To break this [downward] cycle, America should reinvigorate a positive bilateral agenda with Taiwan, capitalizing on Taiwan’s many strengths to expand its participation in the regional and international arenas," the report recommended.

      For example, "The United States can help Taiwan reorient its foreign policy to accentuate its role as a peaceful, vibrant member of the international community. This approach would stabilize the Taiwan Strait and help secure American interests in a prosperous, stable, and free Asia — all within the existing U.S. cross-Strait policy framework."

      For its part, Taiwan should loosen its purse strings and take steps to aid in its own defense, the report recommended:

      The Taiwan Coast Guard and Navy should invest in maritime domain awareness and persistent surveillance to help plug gaps in U.S. and international counterproliferation and counternarcotics activities.

      Taiwan should increase defense spending to improve the funding of critical mission areas such as homeland defense, antisubmarine warfare, and air and missile defense.

      And Taiwan should act to create better security at key military and civilian installations, better special-forces and counterintelligence operations against Chinese agents inside Taiwan, more robust civil defense operations to make the price of entry into Taiwan higher, and continued strides in building a professional noncommissioned officer corps.

      The United States, in turn, should help Taiwan to resist any Chinese aggression, the report stated, including accommodating Taiwan acquiring diesel submarines.

      Washington should increase military-to-military contacts with the island nation, and "push Taiwan to advance its defense capabilities, improve interoperability, and push the U.S. bureaucracy to implement such agreed-upon programs as the diesel submarine program."

      As well, the United States should negotiate a free trade agreement with Taiwan, the report suggested.

      Finally, the United States should have a clear policy solely directed to Taiwan, rather than treating Taiwan as a subset of U.S. policy toward China. For example, the United States countenances and endorses an eventual but peaceful reunification of Taiwan with China.

      On a bilateral basis, Washington and Taipei should announce common "goals and priorities for the defense relationship, focusing on four capabilities to be overseen by the [U.S.] secretary of defense and his Taiwan counterpart."

      The goals would include provisions for Taiwanese homeland defense, including resiliency, survivability, and internal security; anti-submarine warfare, and air and missile defense.

      The report titled "Strengthening Freedom In Asia: A Twenty-First Century Agenda for the U.S.-Taiwan Partnership" can be read in entirety at on the Web.

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