对台军售 My op-ed in NYT on US arms sales to Taiwan

October 3, 2011     
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以下是我在纽约时报辩论专栏 ROOM FOR DEBATE 上发表的关于美对台军售的评论

Should the U.S. Keep Selling Arms to Taiwan?
The U.S. approved a $5.8 billion arms sale to Taiwan over China’s protests. What are the consequences?

削弱强硬派 Weaken the Hardliners




作为历史上美国销售给台湾武器最大的交易之一,白宫希望满足台北持续美国政治和军事支持的需求,同时抵御国内对其面对北京的报复威胁而显软弱的批评。但通过选择给台湾现有的F-16 A/B型战机以技术升级,而非按台湾要求出卖最新的F-16 C/D型战机,奥巴马政府也试图缓解北京的忧虑,并弱化其反制措施。






Original text in English

Weaken the Hardliners

Wenran Jiang
September 24, 2011,

The Obama administration’s decision to sell arms to Taiwan clouds bilateral relations at a time of global economic uncertainty and increased tensions in the South China Sea, and ahead of the leadership transition in China and the U.S. presidential election next year.

Unlike the $6.4 billion arms sales to Taiwan last year, which were initiated by President George W. Bush in 2008 and carried out by the current administration, Obama’s package to Taiwan reflects his delicate balancing act among multiple parties and considerations.

By providing one of the largest deals in the history of U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, the White House hopes to satisfy the demand from Taiwan for continuous U.S. political and military support while fending off critics at home that he is backing down in the face of Beijing’s threat of retaliation. But by choosing to upgrade Taiwan’s existing fleet of F-16 A/B fighters rather than sending the newest F-16 C/D models as requested by Taiwan, Obama is trying to mitigate Beijing’s concerns and soften its reaction.

Pundits in the West see a lot of thunder, but little rain, in the Chinese reaction. In the short term, it may well be the case that after some measured retaliatory actions from Beijing, the bilateral relationship will return to normal, as we witnessed last year. The U.S. may think it can manage it all: Profits and jobs for its arms industry, a strategic presence in East Asia, political leverage on Beijing-Taiwan relations, and good political and economic ties with China.

But in the long run, the continuous U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will have a profound negative impact on how the Chinese mainland perceives U.S. intentions. The latest online opinion polls in China show that 84 percent of the surveyed are against U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, with 76 percent demanding that the Chinese government take strong retaliatory measures and more than 50 percent supporting sanctions against U.S. enterprises. An angry Chinese public is not good news for the U.S.

The U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will not change the balance of power across the Taiwan Strait in Beijing’s favor. Washington needs long-term strategic thinking and vision on how to deal with China’s rise. If it wants the U.S. to stop supplying arms to the island, Beijing needs to do its own part by assuring Taiwan that it would not use force to achieve its goals of reunification.

The best approach for both Washington and Beijing is to weaken the hardliners in both countries who perceive each other as enemies and who say that war between China and the U.S. is inevitable.

本文仅代表作者的个人观点。The opinions expressed in this blog are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Global Brief or the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs.

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