Leveraging on Taiwan, US government, arms dealers aspire to make big money
Published: Aug 21, 2022 07:15 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's illicit visit to the island of Taiwan, and the subsequent military drills of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the Taiwan Straits, there has been a louder call among officials in Taiwan for strengthening the island's "traditional defense." A recent Financial Times article noted that intensified military maneuvers by the PLA has reinforced Taiwan island's desire to acquire larger weapon platforms such as warships and fighter aircraft from the US. 

As a matter of fact, the US and the island of Taiwan have significant differences on building the island's "asymmetric defense" ability. From Taiwan's perspective, it aspires to acquire asymmetric weapons to target the mainland. 

But the "asymmetric defense" claimed by the US is in de-facto a lie made for Taiwan, as Washington is well aware that no matter what weapons it provides to Taiwan island, it's impossible for the island to build such capabilities against the Chinese mainland. Under such a pretext, the US has been coaxing Taiwan into buying larger quantities of US weapons. US arms sales to Taiwan is a complete seller's market in which the island is only able to purchase what the US wants to provide. 

Following the lately tensions in the Taiwan Straits, the US is assumed to be more proactive to even sell some offensive weapons and equipment to the Taiwan authorities. Meanwhile, there will come a time that quite a few US warships and warplanes will be decommissioned, including the early Arleigh Burke-class destroyer using the Aegis Combat System. They will not be destroyed after retirement, but could be sold to Taiwan at a higher price. In other words, US arms sales to Taiwan are seen as maximizing US' own interests, i.e., using Taiwan as a "recycle bin."

US arms dealers would like to sell whatever weapons and equipment in their hands, whether new or used, advanced or outdated, to the Taiwan authorities. All things Washington wants to do are for the Taiwan island to take over more of America's obsolete second-hand weaponry in order to make a big profit. 

Nevertheless, due to the fear of technology leaks, US policy makers has avoided selling the most advanced weaponry to Taiwan, so that US' own military combat capability won't be sacrificed. As a result, Taiwan island has been paying a very high price for second-hand weapons and equipment, which will continue for a long time. After all, the US has never really trusted the Taiwan authorities. The so-called "encouraging Taiwan to resist unification by force" is just a cover for US' true intention to allure the Taiwan authorities to spend more money on junk US weapons. 

The root cause of Taiwan's obsession with purchasing US arms is the belief that the US would defend Taiwan, behind which is the long-term US incitement on the Taiwan authorities to resisting reunification by force. Also, Washington has indicated that Taiwan has to be equipped with a certain level of defense capability before the US could "defend Taiwan," which is undoubtedly a lousy excuse. 

If the US really wants to defend Taiwan island, the US military must be able to rush to the relevant areas near Taiwan in hours to carry out the so-called "defense." But the US keeps insisting that it needs a few days if anything happens. This is called deception. 

No matter how Taiwan island develops its military capabilities, it is not on the same magnitude and level as that of the PLA. The US sells arms to Taiwan only out of its own economic considerations and strategic interests, and Taiwan has blindly lived in the illusion woven by the US. 

In the end, the US attempts to take advantage of "no unification, no independence," using the Taiwan authorities to exhaust the Chinese mainland, making the Taiwan question a permanent stumbling block of the Chinese mainland's development. In the long run, that seems to fit the US interests the most. 

And, there are divergences within the US on how to deal with cross-Straits ties and its Taiwan-related policy, one thing is for sure - the US will continue to encourage the island to refuse reunification by force, instigating an arms race across the Taiwan Straits so as to contain the Chinese mainland's development and constant rise. But the Taiwan authorities should be well aware that the US weapons it yearns to purchase won't pose any deterrence to the PLA. Taiwan is merely a pawn of US government and American arms dealers to make a fortune.

The author is a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn