Friday, September 18, 2009

U.S. Congresswoman to push for F-16 sale to Taiwan


By William Lowther

US Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, the Nevada democrat who co-chairs the Taiwan caucus, told a Washington conference on Tuesday that she was preparing to write a letter to US President Barack Obama asking him to sell Taiwan the F-16 fighter aircraft it has requested.A similar letter to former US president George W Bush about a year ago, spurred the White House to announce the last major arms deal with Taipei.

Reluctant to anger China — Obama plans to visit Beijing in November — the president seems to have shelved Taiwan’s request for 66 F-16s to boost its fleet of aging fighters.There has been speculation that Obama will make no decisions about the planes until after his November visit, but a campaign led by Representative Berkley, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, could force his hand.

She said that she was “going to make sure” that the Obama administration acted on the issue.“I think it is very important,” she said.She said that after the Taiwan caucus sent a letter about a year ago to Bush urging him to release arms “we had basically promised to Taiwan,” a number were released before Bush left office, but not the F-16s.

“Militarily, they will help to keep peace in the Strait,” Berkley said.Berkley seemed confident that she would be able to gather significant bipartisan support and that the letter would be co-signed not just by members of the Taiwan caucus but also by other members of the House.The letter would be sent in the near future, the Congresswoman added, if the Obama administration does not act of its own accord.Berkley was speaking at a Center for National Policy conference called to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

US

Turning to the life sentences passed on former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)and his wife Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), Berkley said that the US Congress had a role to play in making sure that the court proceedings “were fair and open and that decisions were reached appropriately and were not politically motivated.”She refused to make further comments on the case until after the full appeal is completed — which could take a year or more — because “it just wouldn’t be appropriate.”

But several senior members of Congress speaking off the record over the last few days have expressed their “shock” at the severity of the sentences.There is concern on Capitol Hill that there was political interference in the trial and that the sentences were too harsh.But any outrage or condemnation would have to wait until after the appeal has run its course before being expressed publicly, they said.

Regarding the TRA, Richard Bush, a Brookings Institution scholar and one of the most respected Taiwan experts in Washington, said that the security section of the Act was not well understood.Most people, he said, believed that the Act “required” the US to sell arms to Taiwan and come to Taiwan’s defense in the case of a crisis.But that interpretation, he said, “exaggerated” the real meaning of the Act.

In practice, he said the White House would decide on selling weapons and coming to the nation’s defense while only “consulting” Congress.Most of the TRA language, he said, was a statement of policy rather than of law.“The only thing that the TRA requires a US administration to do is to report to the Congress in a crisis, just report,” he said.

1 comments:

The United States claims that the international legal status of Taiwan is undetermined.

In his new lawsuit in the USA, former President Chen claims that in fact "Taiwan is occupied territory of the United States of America." See -- http://www.taiwanbasic.com/court/

If we examine US policy statements on the Taiwan issue, we can see that there are no contradictions if indeed Taiwan is actually occupied territory of the USA. Obviously, the Republic of China is a government in exile, which does not exercise sovereignty over Taiwan.

But, considering all these facts, we have to immediately recognize that the Geneva Conventions forbid military conscription in occupied territory. Hence, we must face the question: Where is the legal basis for the Republic of China to conduct military conscription over the local Taiwanese populace in Taiwan?

If indeed Taiwan is not part of the Republic of China, (and this has been the view of the US Executive Branch for decades), then the maintenance of an ROC Ministry of National Defense on Taiwanese soil is also illegal.

My associates and I wonder if any of the members of the US Congress have ever considered these issues every year when they discuss "providing" military arms to the Republic of China [government in exile] on Taiwan???

It seems to me that all arms sales should be halted until the Republic of China officials can clarify the legal basis for their military conscription policies in Taiwan, and their maintenance of a Ministry of National Defense in non-Chinese territory.

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