The Discourse in Beijing
Taiwan has moved to the front burner of US-Chinese relations
2:25 PM, Mar 10, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
Over at The Cable, Josh Rogin reports that the Obama administration's strategic engagement with China seems to have less to do with broad foreign policy objectives than the more narrow issue of arms sales to Taiwan.
Bold is certainly one way to put it -- Beijing has no problem sharing ballistic missile technology with Iran, selling fighter jets and small arms to the brutal Mugabe government, and propping up the massive North Korean army. China is in no position to lecture the United States on arms sales, particularly air defense assets like the Block C/D F-16 and Aegis missile technology to a small democracy like Taiwan. Rogin's report addresses this hypocrisy:
So China has effectively leveraged the United States to discontinue supplies of basic integrated air defense systems and interceptor jets to Taiwan, while aggressively boosting their own air superiority (the PLAAF is the third largest in the world). If only Germany had been able to pull off a similar foreign policy coup prior to the Battle of Britain (by August 1940 thousands of American built aircraft were under order by the British government).
If Obama is trying to heighten tensions in the Taiwan Strait, stripping the Republic of China of their air defenses is precisely the way to go about doing it. Once Beijing can achieve air supremacy over Taiwan, invasion will follow. The world's lukewarm reaction to the Russian invasion of Georgia certainly has some gears spinning in the heads of Chinese strategists, so it's in Obama's best interest to nip a potentially volatile situation in the bud now. Sell the F-16 C/Ds to Taipei, and throw in a couple of Aegis systems in for good measure. Worst case scenario, we use those arms sales to leverage China on Iran and North Korea.
Honestly, would it kill the State Department to use a little realpolitik here?
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