Friday, April 07, 2006

Taiwan Stiffs US Navy -Not! Reading Between the Lines

China considers Taiwan part of its national territory and has vowed to bring the self-governed democracy of 23 million people back to its fold by force, if necessary.

While the United States recognizes the legitimacy of mainland China's government, the U.S. obligated itself to help Taiwan remain independent of the Peoples Republic.

In 2001, the Bush administration offered Taiwan an arms deal including eight diesel-electric submarines and 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft. Since then, the Chinese have ramped up their own submarine production. But now, Taiwan's Nationalist Party, known as the KMT or Kuomintang, has blocked Taiwan's President Chen in his efforts to appropriate the $12 billion for the deal (50 times over the past year). The KMT fears the deal could provoke Beijing.

In Daily Briefing Megan Scully reports Navy works to stall submarine deal with Taiwan :
"Last summer, the U.S. Navy billed the Taiwan government $2.5 million to cover the cost of a little-known operation dedicated to helping Taipei close a ground-breaking arms deal to acquire eight American-made diesel submarines. But after investing about $8 million since 2001, Taiwan refused to pay, despite Navy warnings in two August 2005 memos that it would shut down its submarine "pre-selection" operation without more money, a move sure to trigger long delays and higher costs."

And what is wrong with this reporting?
"But on this side of the Pacific, Navy officials have played a central role in actively stalling the deal. Their resistance to diesel submarine exports has been tacitly accepted by Pentagon and other administration officials, whose growing indifference has helped to lock the deal in neutral."

First, the Navy only exports diesel, not nuclear subs (e.g. USS Tusk and USS Cutlass transferred to Taiwan). Secondly, U.S. Pacfleet subs have been ramped up, too (compare Guam now, and in 2001, for instance).

Secondly, with the superpower U.S. committed to help Taiwan defend itself, why should Taiwan be in a big hurry to provoke the People's Republic? (hardly either politic or practical).

Thirdly, the notion that the Navy's "resistance to diesel submarine exports has been tacitly accepted by Pentagon and other administration officials" shows that something very interesting (different from our public perception) could be going on regarding State strategy towards China. Perhaps some major, diplomatic inroad will be announced. Perhaps China's currency will soon begin to imitate other countries in its degree of float.

Connecticut Representative Rob Simmons' district just happens to include General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard which builds submarines for the U.S. Navy. Did you know that Rep. Simmons also happen to be a Chinese-speaking former intelligence officer who served in Taiwan back in the 1970s (before Washington extended diplomatic recognition to Beijing)?

Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Diplomatic representation from the US: none. Size: about the land area of Maryland and Delaware combined.


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