Tag Archive: press release

The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan sales on December 16, 2015.

 

The published Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 15-27, 15-44, 15-45, 15-72, 15-74, 16-01, 16-05, and 16-06) were for two of the four FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates that that the U.S. authorized by law for transfer to Taiwan a year ago, and associated materials (at a refurbishment and upgrade cost of US$190 million); 36 AAV-7 Assault Amphibious Vehicles (US$375 million); 13 MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B ship defense Close-In Weapon Systems, upgrade kits, ammunition, and support (US$416 million); 208 Javelin guided missiles, technical assistance, logistics, and program support (US$57 million); 769 BGM-71F-series TOW 2B Aero Radio Frequency anti-armor missiles, support, and training (US$268 million); 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, related equipment and support (US$217 million); Taiwan Advanced Tactical Data Link System (TATDLS) and Link 11 communication systems integration (US$75 million); Follow-on support for Taiwan’s MIDS/LVT-1 and JTIDS previously procured (US$ 120 million).[i]

 

Taiwan is poised to elect a new President on January 16, 2016. The timing of this announcement is therefore useful as a modest signal to China that the U.S. has equities in the peaceful transition of power on the island, and that it supports Taiwan’s democratic system. However, the Taiwan Relations Act states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” In light of this recent sale, the US-Taiwan Business Council poses a number of questions for the Obama Administration:

 

  1. Why did it take over four years to prepare this arms package? The last U.S. arms sale to Taiwan took place on September 21, 2011.
  2. Why isn’t Taiwan being offered any new capabilities to counter changes to the Chinese threat over this period?
  3. What impact are delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests having on the island’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability?

 

The contents of the arms package announced today – along with the unprecedented four-year delay since the last arms sale – raises serious questions as to whether it serves as a response commensurate to the threat posed by China’s military. The past four years has seen increased Chinese force modernization efforts, and according to the U.S. Department of Defense “the PLA has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion, if necessary.[ii]

 

The Obama Administration’s focus on China military-to-military engagement and other initiatives in which China’s cooperation is viewed as crucial, such as on climate change efforts, is directly and negatively impacting U.S. willingness to maintain consistent and credible support for Taiwan’s self-defense. This in turn directly impacts the seriousness with which China views our intentions to assist Taiwan.

 

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “There have been myriad initiatives in U.S.-Taiwan bilateral security relations since the last arms sale in 2011. However, while China has deployed new fighters, submarines, and missiles during the last four years, the U.S. has consistently refused to consider providing Taiwan access to similar platforms, or even aiding their indigenous development.

 

In addition, the process for considering, assessing, and processing Taiwan arms sales is broken. The contorted efforts to provide the minimum over an extended period has amounted to long delays and to the U.S. providing only second-hand equipment and additional munitions for systems already in Taiwan’s inventory. The U.S. is placing its China priorities ahead of our legacy and legal requirement to provide for Taiwan’s self-defense. We see no effort to meaningfully address China’s modernization efforts with new capabilities for Taiwan – not because they are unneeded, but because the political cost to China relations is perceived as being too high. Yet that perception was roundly debunked by the Council and Project 2049 in our 2012 report on Chinese reactions to arms sales.[iii]

 

Hammond-Chambers also said “The process that has seen the bundling of Taiwan arms sales into large packages has run its course. The arbitrary manner in which programs are considered, the absence of a broader strategy for providing Taiwan consistent material support, and the long delays in processing and notifying them to Congress is hampering Taiwan’s ability to mount a serious defense. By bundling programs into packages, the U.S. forces Taiwan to buy all necessary equipment at once rather than in an orderly year-on-year process. If requests go unaddressed for years, or programs are long delayed, how can Taiwan reasonably maintain domestic political support for them, or develop the budget for its ongoing force modernization?

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Additionally, the Council believes that the bilateral security relationship needs to be clear about what new capabilities should accompany ongoing training and exchanges in aid of Taiwan’s self-defense – including addressing quantitative issues impacting its fighter fleet, its requirement for submarines to complicate Chinese invasion scenarios, as well as further improvements in Taiwan’s missile defense capabilities.

 

[i] As of 1:00 pm on December 16, 2015. For details, see the DSCA website at http://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales
[ii] See: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015” http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2015_China_Military_Power_Report.pdf
[iii] See: “Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales” http://www.us-taiwan.org/reports/2012_chinese_reactions_to_taiwan_arms_sales.pdf

Press Release: The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan (PDF)

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US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan

The US–Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the vote in the House of Representatives approving Rep. Kay Granger’s amendment mandating selling no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan. The Granger amendment was attached to H.R.4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, and was included in a collection of non-controversial amendments that were packaged together and voted upon as a group.

“The bipartisan vote approving this amendment speaks to the tremendous support this sale enjoys in the House,” said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, President of the US-Taiwan Business Council. “The Taiwan Air Force is nearing an operational crisis point. Within five years more than half of Taiwan’s current fighter fleet will be retired, leaving fewer than 200 aircraft to defend the island. New F-16C/Ds would provide Taiwan – a strong and democratic ally – with the airframes they need to provide a credible deterrent to Chinese adventurism,” he said.

The House action comes on the heels of a White House letter to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), which recognized the urgency and severity of the burgeoning fighter gap between China and Taiwan. The letter stated that the Obama Administration is working on a near-term course of action to address the fighter shortfall, “including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.” The Administration has resisted the sale of new fighter aircraft to Taiwan, driven by unsupported concerns over retaliatory responses by China.

Hammond-Chambers commented that “The recent acknowledgement by the White House that Taiwan needs new fighters is a welcome and positive development. The threat from China is real, and we have seen report after report describing Beijing’s massive military buildup across the Taiwan Strait. New aircraft will add to Taiwan’s sense of security, and will allow Taipei to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The next phase of cross-Strait dynamics will require sophisticated, flexible, focused, and determined U.S. engagement and support for Taiwan, and it is absolutely essential that the Administration take the necessary steps to notify the sale of new F-16C/Ds to Congress. It is time to approve this sale and move forward.”

The total U.S. economic impact associated with the F-16 sale is estimated to be just over $17 billion. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, selling new F-16C/Ds to Taiwan would be protecting more than 87,000 person-years of work. “That’s a real shot-in-the-arm to a critical part of our defense base,” Hammond-Chambers said. “In addition, it would serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States. This is a ‘win-win’ for both Taiwan and the U.S.,” he added.

The NDAA has yet to be taken up by the United States Senate.

 

Press Note: US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan (PDF file)

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Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales

Senator John Cornyn has lifted his hold on the Senate confirmation of Mark W. Lippert for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs – the Pentagon’s top Asia official. The hold was lifted in exchange for a White House letter addressing Senator Cornyn’s concerns over Taiwan arms sales, and in particular the longstanding request from Taiwan to purchase new F-16 C/D aircraft. The White House letter included a commitment that forthcoming “near-term” solutions to Taiwan’s fighter shortfall will include new U.S.-made fighter aircraft. Mr. Lippert was confirmed by the Senate last night, before it recessed for a week.

In the letter, signed by White House Director of Legislative Affairs Robert L. Nabors, the Administration states that “We are mindful of and share your concerns about Taiwan’s growing shortfall in fighter aircraft – as the F-5s are retired from service and notwithstanding the upgrade of the F-16A/Bs. We recognize that China has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, while our democratic partner Taiwan has only 490. We are committed to assisting Taiwan in addressing the disparity in numbers of aircraft through our work with Taiwan’s defense ministry on its development of a comprehensive defense strategy vis-a-vis China.” In addition, the letter asserts that “the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the inter-agency and the Congress, will play a lead role as the Administration decides on a near-term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.

The language in today’s White House letter differs significantly from the original Administration response to Senator Cornyn’s concerns. In a February 15 letter, the U.S. Department of Defense asserted that “we believe the F-16 A/B upgrade effectively meets Taiwan’s current needs.”

In a statement today, Senator Cornyn said “I commend the Administration for recognizing that our friend and ally Taiwan’s air force is woefully undersized and outgunned by Communist China, and their inability to adequately defend themselves poses a threat not just to their own security, but to that of the United States. I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the Administration and Taiwan as we move forward in this joint effort to ensure Taiwan has the new American-made fighter jets it needs to defend itself.

Senator Cornyn is not alone in expressing his concerns over U.S. efforts to support Taiwan’s legitimate requirement for a modern and fully capable air force. The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act – bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Cornyn and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which would require the Obama Administration to sell no fewer than 66 new F 16C/D multirole fighter jets to Taiwan – may be considered in the House later this spring. The issue is continuing to attract attention because as the program to upgrade Taiwan’s 145 F-16 A/Bs begins, and in the absence of new F-16s C/Ds, Taiwan will have as few as 75 usable modern fighters at any given time between 2016-2022.

The US-Taiwan Business Council congratulates Mr. Lippert on his new position, where we look forward to working with him on Taiwan defense issues. The Council also urges the Administration to follow through on this newfound commitment to Taiwan’s defense by announcing the sale of new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, such a sale would mean more than $17 billion to the U.S. economy, and it would be protecting more than 87,000 jobs. It would also serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States.

 

Press Note: Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales (PDF file)

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New Report Examines the History and Implications of Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales

On April 17, 2012, the US-Taiwan Business Council and the Project 2049 Institute will release a joint report entitled “Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales.” This report takes an in-depth look into the history of major U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and examines the correlation between such arms sales and the reactions and subsequent retaliatory responses – if any – by the People’s Republic of China.

The report questions the extent to which China is prepared to jeopardize its overall relationship with America, and concludes that while the PRC has loudly protested past arms sales, tangible retaliatory responses have not had substantial long-term effects. China is unlikely to challenge any fundamental U.S. interests in response to future releases of significant military articles or services to Taiwan, and the U.S. therefore retains considerable freedom of action in abiding by the Taiwan Relations Act. Barring a substantive reduction in the Chinese military posture opposite Taiwan, the U.S. will likely continue to provide Taiwan with weapons of a defensive character for the foreseeable future.

The report also asserts that U.S. arms sales provide Taiwan’s government with the confidence needed to engage with their counterparts in Beijing from a position of strength, suggests that these sales are in the U.S. national interest, and that they serve as a visible reminder of U.S. commitments to peace and security in the Asia Pacific.

 

New Report Examines the History and Implications of Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales (PDF file)

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US-Taiwan Business Council Urges Congress to Pass the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA)

The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA) was submitted today for Congressional review and passage by Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The object of the Act is to assist the Obama Administration in meeting the obligations encompassed in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) – to provide Taiwan with weapons of a defensive nature to meet the growing threat from China. The TAMA would legislate selling 66 or more F-16 C/D fighter jets to Taiwan, and the US-Taiwan Business Council urges Congress to pass the Act.

The balance of power in the Taiwan Strait is an essential aspect of Americas’ Asia Pacific foreign policy. As China continues to invest heavily in expanding and modernizing its military capabilities, passage of the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act would provide Taiwan with badly needed replacement F-16 fighters, thereby bringing the U.S. government back into compliance with the TRA.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said that “TAMA will enjoy broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both chambers recently released letters in support of the F-16 C/D sale, with significant numbers of signatories from both parties. This strong Congressional support for the sale represents the foundation for TAMA, as well as a path to passage of the Act.”

Hammond-Chambers went on to note, “this Act and this sale is a win-win for the national security interests of both the United States and Taiwan, as the new fighters would address part of the airpower imbalance by modernizing Taiwan’s fighter fleet. The sale also plays a vital role for the United States, in expanding forward-deployed capacity building with a key Asia Pacific security partner.”

 

US-Taiwan Business Council Urges Congress to Pass the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA) (PDF file)

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Governor Rick Scott of Florida Supports Taiwan F-16 Deal in Letter to President Obama

On August 2, Governor Rick Scott of Florida sent a letter to President Obama in support of selling 66 F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan. In his letter, Governor Scott said that the sale and manufacturing of F-16 aircraft supports hundreds of skilled jobs in his state, and that the sale of new aircraft to Taiwan would save 477 direct jobs and 1,446 indirect jobs in Florida.

Governor Scott reminded the President that the window of opportunity to act on Taiwan’s request for new fighters is rapidly closing, and requested that the Obama Administration accept Taiwan’s Letter of Request for F-16C/Ds.

 

Governor Rick Scott of Florida Letter to President Obama supporting F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan (PDF file)

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181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Challenge President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the August 1, 2011 letter to President Barack Obama, where 181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives stated their belief that “it is critical for the United States to sell the government of Taiwan all the F-16 C/Ds it requires.” The letter strengthens and reinforces the corresponding message in a similar letter sent earlier this year by 47 members of the U.S. Senate.

The government of Taiwan has attempted to purchase 66 new F-16 C/D model fighters from the United States since 2006, but has found itself in the precarious position of the U.S. refusing to even consider the sale. These new fighters would replace Taiwan’s aging fleet of Vietnam War -era F-5s and Mirage 2000s, which are to be retired from active service in the coming decade.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has committed the Obama Administration to decide by October 1 what – if anything – the U.S. is prepared to do in order to help modernize Taiwan’s air force. That includes making a decision on providing replacement F-16 C/Ds, as well as on upgrading Taiwan’s 145 existing F-16 A/Bs.

 

181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Challenge President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan (PDF file)
House Members’ August 1, 2011 Letter to President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan

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Senator Cornyn and Secretary Clinton Make Taiwan F-16 Deal

Secretary Clinton today informed Senator John Cornyn – who had been blocking the Senate confirmation of the Deputy Secretary of State nominee to motivate the Administration to accept Taiwan’s Letter of Request for new F-16s – that the Obama Administration would make a decision on the F-16 sale, as well as deliver a long delayed Taiwan Airpower Report, by October 1, 2011. On that basis, Senator Cornyn lifted his hold on the nomination of Bill Burns, and awaits the Administration’s announcement and its submission of the report.

While the US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the Obama Administration’s commitment to finally make a decision, we suspect that the outcome simply reiterates decisions already made, and therefore fails to address Taiwan’s central need – new combat aircraft to meet the growing threat from China.

 

Press Note: Senator Cornyn and Secretary Clinton Make Taiwan F-16 Deal (PDF file)

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U.S. Government Should Consider the Economic Impact of Releasing F-16s to Taiwan

The Lockheed Martin Aeronautics division, manufacturer of the F-16 fighter jets long sought by Taiwan, last week announced plans to cut 1,500 jobs at locations around the United States. This news highlights the need for the U.S. government to reassess its position on the sale and to consider the positive economic impact of releasing F-16s to Taiwan. The US-Taiwan Business Council joins Senator John Cornyn of Texas in calling on the Obama Administration to “end its blockade of Taiwan’s request to purchase new F-16s.”

Commenting on the Lockheed Martin announcement, Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said, “The recent Perryman Report shows that the follow-on sale of F-16s to Taiwan would have a positive economic impact around the country, generating some US$8.7 billion in gross output and sustaining approximately 16,000 direct and indirect jobs over the life of the program. That would represent a significant economic boost to states such as Ohio and Florida – where unemployment stands at 8.6% and 10.6%, respectively. Reports estimate that 1,800 workers in Ohio and 1,900 in Florida depend on an F-16 sale to Taiwan. Should the Taiwan sale fail to materialize, however, current orders would only sustain the F-16 production line for another two years.”

 

U.S. Government Should Consider the Economic Impact of Releasing F-16s to Taiwan: US-Taiwan Business Council (PDF file)

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U.S. Senate Sends President Obama Strong Message on New F-16s for Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the May 26, 2011 letter to President Obama, urging him to “move quickly to notify Congress of the sale of 66 F-16C/D aircraft that Taiwan needs in order to modernize its air force.” The letter came from Senators Robert Menendez and James Inhofe, joined by 43 of their U.S. Senate colleagues.

The letter notes that ”successive reports issued by U.S. and Taiwanese defense authorities clearly outline the direct threat faced by Taiwan as a result of China’s unprecedented military buildup,” and that “military experts in both Taiwan and the United States have raised concerns that Taiwan is losing the qualitative advantage in defensive arms that has long served as its primary military deterrent against China.” The letter goes on to say that “without new fighter aircraft and upgrades to its existing fleet of F-16s, Taiwan will be dangerously exposed to Chinese military threats, aggression and provocation, which pose significant national security implications for the United States.

Commenting on the letter, Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said, “The Obama Administration has just hosted PLA Chief of Staff Chen Bingde, who made several unsubstantiated claims concerning Taiwan during his visit – including that some on Capitol Hill are considering reviewing the need for the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Senators Menendez and Inhofe and their 43 Senate colleagues are clearly and concisely responding to General Chen’s claims. The United States Congress remains firmly in support of the Taiwan Relations Act, and of its requirement to provide Taiwan with arms to provide for its own self-defense.”

 

U.S. Senate Sends President Obama Strong Message on New F-16s for Taiwan (PDF file)
Senators Menendez and Inhofe May 26, 2011 Letter to President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan

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