Which F-16s should America have sold to Taiwan?
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September 23rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Which F-16s should America have sold to Taiwan?

Editor's Note: Dr. James M. Lindsay is a Senior Vice President at the Council on Foreign Relations and co-author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. Visit his blog here and follow him on Twitter. The following is his First Take, reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

By James M. LindsayCFR.org

The Palestinian statehood bid is not the only issue the Obama administration has been struggling with this week. On Wednesday, the White House announced that it had approved a $5 billion arms deal to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 145 F-16 fighter planes. That might sound like a hum-drum decision, but it’s one fraught with domestic and diplomatic peril. Taiwanese officials had wanted the administration to sell them sixty-six new F-16 C/D’s - they are faster and have better long-range radar capabilities - rather than retrofit the older F-16 A/B’s. (The Taiwanese also want diesel-electric submarines.) Many members of Congress lobbied the administration on Taiwan’s behalf. At the same time, China reiterated its view that arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers to be a renegade province, violate Chinese sovereignty. When the United States announced a smaller weapons deal with Taiwan last year, Beijing halted military-to-military cooperation.

So far reactions to the White House decision have been muted. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney did assail the decision as “yet another example of his [Obama’s] weak leadership in foreign policy,” and he accused the president of having “caved into the unreasonable demands of China.” But Taipei helped the White House out by formally thanking the administration for the decision. Under the terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which mandates that the United States provide Taiwan with sufficient weaponry to defend itself, Congress has thirty days to object. The press of other legislative business may help keep Congress on the sidelines. And no fireworks have erupted in Beijing. But stay tuned. This could just be the calm before the storm.

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Topics: China • Military

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. 100% ETHIO STRONGER!

    Why Taiwan doesn't exercise its Sovereignty?

    September 23, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Check before you say something. Taiwan is a sovreignty with its own government, but isolated, as countries in the international community recognises China as their diplomatic peer! Yes, Taiwan was a permanent member at the Security Council and was replaced by China in 1979 after the admission to the U.N.
      I don't blame the U.S. for selling arms to Taiwan. It's about business and not ethics. Nowadays a $ 5 billion is hard to find. China would do the same too! It's a free world and there's no trade embargo on Taiwan.

      September 24, 2011 at 5:52 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        please read, a $5 billion DEAL...

        September 24, 2011 at 5:53 am |
      • Dong Da

        Republic of China was in security council. There is no such thing that Taiwan as a country(in major history anyway).

        September 24, 2011 at 9:36 am |
      • Eric

        Taiwan was never part of the UN Security Council – you idiot.

        September 24, 2011 at 10:09 am |
      • USA

        Can American be trusted? This is the question in everybody minds.
        In the last 20 years, US treated its closest allies like toilet paper; If it was not for election year, Israel would have been sold in UN last week. Love to see US sell the stealth to Taiwan and have a taste of betrayal when Taiwan gives it away to their closest cousins.

        September 24, 2011 at 11:53 am |
      • USA

        "please read, a $5 billion DEAL..."

        j. von hettlingen is right, to US, that is what Taiwan worth.

        September 24, 2011 at 11:57 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        @Eric and Dong: of course I know the difference between Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China, which was known in the early days as "Red China", as a differentiation from Republic of China, which was at the Security Council till 1972, the admission of PRoC to the U.N.

        September 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
      • yang zi

        Come on how could one hate one own mother?
        I agree, Taiwan has grown up and has its own way of life and I totally support that.
        I wish more people understand that why China "strong hand" government is still the best for the state of our people today. (It has nothing to do with commi or no commi).
        Check into the complains of mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong and Taiwan; Maybe then people will appreciate what China is facing 24/7.

        September 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • commieslayofftaiwan

      taiwan's already is an independent and sovereign country and has been for half a century. nothing china says or does including threatening other countries with retaliation if they admit taiwan is a sovereign nation or threatening taiwan with 1500+ missiles pointed at her can deny that plain fact. the future of taiwan is for the taiwanese to decide and they choose democracy. they will NEVER want to unite with china. the longer taiwan remains free and democratic the more they want to be remain separate and sovereign and for china to leave them alone. chicoms needs to accept that reality.

      September 25, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
      • yang zi

        Can you do all that without US? If you cannot, then you are not Independent yet.
        US day is number, please come home, we need you bro.

        September 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
      • commieslayofftaiwan

        u.s. supports democracy in general. u.s. supports taiwanese democracy. you think they want taiwan to be communist? i dont think so!! u.s. tells china to their face they dont support taiwanese independence. but behind their backs they support taiwanese independence. most of western world does. nobody likes red chicoms.

        anyway, taiwan has been independent for decades. taiwan doesnt need u.s. to be independence. china does not rule taiwan in any way, shape or form whatsoever and that is fact and reality red chinese need to get over.

        September 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
      • yang zi

        We mainlanders love money and hate commi just the same..Last time I check China is no more chicom. You have no excuse not to come home to mother China.

        September 25, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
      • commieslayofftaiwan

        there is no excuse needed. taiwanese dont want to be part of autocratic red china. they've been doing very well on their own. and they want democracy. just like americans dont want to be a part of mother england even tho they speak the same language and have similar culture and are both democratic. china needs to get over that taiwanese have grown up, moved out and hate their mother.

        September 26, 2011 at 3:50 am |
      • yang zi

        (Post in wrong spot)

        Come on how could one hate one own mother?
        I agree, Taiwan has grown up and has its own way of life and I totally support that.
        I wish more people understand that why China "strong hand" government is still the best for the state of our people today. (It has nothing to do with commi or no commi).
        Check into the complains of mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong and Taiwan; Maybe then people will appreciate what China is facing 24/7.

        September 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
      • commieslayofftaiwan

        maybe "hate their mother" is not the accurate term. more like hate their mother's rules in the house. because once having grown up, moved out of the house and become independent (which everyone in the world knows taiwan is) taiwanese do not want to move back into the mother's house.

        September 27, 2011 at 8:07 am |
      • yang zi

        Do you remember this: 29 Dec 2007 – Pat Buchanan said in public "our democracy is a "fraud".

        September 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  2. rajeev

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVivxrlxwxI&w=640&h=390]

    September 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  3. Kailim

    May be it is inadvertent. I never know. The US foreign policies had always produced dilemmas at home and hostile confrontations abroad. The taiwan Chinese in Republic Of China resent the US government for too slim an arm package as requested by them. Furthermore most of the Chinese there hate virtually from the bottom of their hearts the US for forsaking the diplomatic tie with them, and recognised the People's Republic Of China and then admitted her into the UN. Whereas the mainland Chinese resent the US for interference of Chinese home affairs and impede the unification of China after hundred years of occupation and humiliation.
    Another dilemma is the Israel and Palestine deadlock.
    Smarter please, US politicians.

    September 24, 2011 at 12:19 am | Reply
  4. km

    Yes supply taiwan with the best weapons..keep china in check...

    September 24, 2011 at 12:42 am | Reply
    • Burittos

      Please do, taiwan can resell to uncle Wang for 10 billions. Yuck yuck yuck!

      September 24, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Reply
      • Neehow!

        Today in China, thousands of factories with US technologies and know how are set up by Taiwanese.

        September 24, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  5. bt-7

    American are not too bright to sell Taiwan finsihed weapons. American should just help Taiwan make weapons themselves like Israeli did for Chinese J-10. Then Chinese have no pretext to complain.

    September 24, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  6. That'snottrue:[

    .............Is that the only thing the US can sell now a days? Why not something that helps the human race...instead of weapons to kill people with.... =.=

    September 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  7. yang zi

    no waorry, today taiwan F16 is tomorrow China F16. the more the merrier. hehe.

    September 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  8. Mike Smith

    the brutal PRC Communist regime engages in widespread human rights abuses:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbDSOmTWU7U&w=640&h=390]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gohXIkN8bg&w=640&h=390]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyRSyYMhW2E&w=640&h=390]

    September 28, 2011 at 12:30 am | Reply
  9. Mike Smith

    the brutal PRC Communist regime engages in widespread human rights abuses as well as the barbaric practice of organ harvesting done in Chinese labour camps (Gulags)

    Magazine Breaks News on Organ Harvesting in China

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvOu_3dlQ6M&w=640&h=390]

    September 28, 2011 at 12:31 am | Reply
  10. Xiao Ma

    The Taiwanese have been...resentful, to say the least, of America for some time now. It is sad that the Americans do not yet know of this.

    October 11, 2013 at 7:00 am | Reply
  11. Burittos

    ok

    September 24, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Reply

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