PICTURED: A CATM-84K Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), being mounted on an aircraft in an American airbase on Okinawa Japan. 135 of these Boeing-made missiles are being sold to Taiwan.
WASHINGTON D.C., October 21st 2020. Reports say the State Department has notified Congress that $1.8 billion in weapons will be sold to the government of Taiwan which includes ground-to-air truck-mounted rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin, and 135 cruise missiles made by Boeing, together equaling around 1.46 billion.
Sensors for the front of Taiwan’s fighter jets round out the package, while the Taipei Times also report that hellfire drones are included in the sale.
“This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” all three notices said. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.”
Weeks ago, declassified Reagan-era cables from the American Institute of Taiwan, a de facto embassy in the country which the U.S. does not recognize, demonstrate that for 40 years, the conditions upon which arms sales are made come from China’s willingness to resolve cross-straight differences peacefully.
“Further, if [China] were to become more hostile, then the United States would increase arms sales to Taiwan,” explained the Institute.
Tail wagging the dog
Totally, Taiwan requested $10.7 billion in arms sales from the U.S. during fiscal year 2019, the largest of any year since Taiwan-U.S. relations began, and also the most of any country for that fiscal year.
Four fifths of that spending was to get F-16 jet fighters onto the island, with the rest going towards Abrams tanks, all of which could be destroyed if China launched their nuclear weapons. on the island.
Almost every time there’s been an arms sale to Taiwan, China complains, which administrations from Reagan to Obama have interpreted as threats, justifying more arms sales to Taiwan.
However until this year, which has featured tension building exercises in the straits of Taiwan by China and the U.S. such as flyovers with intelligence and assault aircraft, the U.S. was always deeply hesitant to outrightly say anything about Taiwanese sovereignty.
China believes the country on the island of Formosa to belong to her, but new U.S. legislation introduced in the Senate by Ted Cruz (R – FL) and in the House by Michael McCaul (R – TX) would shift perspectives on that belief in Washington.
If passed, the Taiwan symbols of sovereignty act would, according to Jake Cung writing for Taipei Times “allow Taiwanese to openly wave national flags on US soil and wear official uniforms carrying representations of the flag, while the Taiwan non-discrimination act would serve as a legal basis for helping Taiwan to join the IMF and the employment fairness for Taiwan act would encourage global financial institutions to hire Taiwanese on a fair basis.”
This could be interpreted as another threat of their sovereignty, which would, according to the American Institute of Taiwan, facilitate further arms sales in a tail wagging the dog sort of way.
Taiwan understands her need to protect herself from an increasingly boorish China, and with the U.S. never committing to protect the home of the former Kuomintang, they don’t have many options but to establish conventional military deterrents.
However if war did break out, as US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a press release on August 13th, in the form of an amphibious landing, it would not only be of no real benefit, as O’Brien himself later admitted, but could very likely lead to nuclear war with the United States.
“I don’t know what they would gain from that,” he said. “If they did that, maybe they would certainly become pariahs internationally for just the wanton destruction of Taiwan”.
All the same, O’Brien turned right around and reiterated the need to sell billions in weapons to the Taiwanese, after just explaining there is no reason why China would invade them.
“Taiwan needs to start looking at some asymmetric and anti-access area-denial strategies … and really fortify itself in a manner that would deter the Chinese from any sort of amphibious invasion or even a gray zone operation against them”.