Taiwan, China, and US Missile Sales

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 3/04/2007 11:44:00 PM
Here we go again: China is warning the US not to sell arms to Taiwan. This time, Taiwan wants to buy 218 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM; presumably to defend against a certain neighbor's jets) and 235 Maverick Air-to-Surface Missiles (presumably to defend against a certain neighbor's warships). The proposed deal amounts to $421M--not much by American standards. Chinese officials expressed their understandable dismay to US Deputy Secretary of State Nicholas Negroponte while visiting Beijing. He defended the deal by saying:
"I used the opportunity to reaffirm our 'one China' policy, supported by the three [Sino-US] communiques, and our adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act." He added that these arms were "strictly for defensive purposes and consistent with the 'one China' policy...we believe that the provision of defensive weapons to Taiwan is consistent with that 'one China' policy."

Negroponte was undoubtedly in a hard spot. His tortured explanation leaves obvious questions unanswered. Why is Taiwan so keen on defense--and from whom? Certainly it cannot be China, with which it is "one." Throw in China's recent buildup with Dick Cheney's bellicose comments about China's ambitions and it makes you wonder: China on one hand and the US and Taiwan on the other may be deeply intertwined economically, yet could a fit of pique unleash China's dogs of war? Let's just hope that Thomas Friedman is right with his "Dell Theory of Conflict Prevention," wherein two countries in Dell Computer's supply chain have never gone to conflict with one another.