Arms pur­chase puts Tai­wan at risk

Global Times US Edition - - EDITORIAL -

The US State Depart­ment for­mally an­nounced on Tues­day that the US govern­ment had de­cided to sell $8 bil­lion in military equip­ment, in­clud­ing 66 new F-16V fighter jets, to the is­land of Tai­wan. The plan still needs con­gres­sional ap­proval but it is un­likely to be turned down.

This is the largest-ever US arms sale to the is­land, which will def­i­nitely im­pact the China-us re­la­tions and the sit­u­a­tion across the Tai­wan Straits.

Tai­wan re­gional leader Tsai Ing­wen’s au­thor­i­ties con­sider the arms pur­chase a big po­lit­i­cal score and will try to use it to con­vince Tai­wan peo­ple that the US is reli­able in pro­tect­ing the is­land and that the rad­i­cal pol­icy of the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) is se­cure, hop­ing the arms sale could help

get Tsai re­elected as the re­gional leader in 2020.

Tai­wan’s military buildup is mean­ing­less when com­pared with the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army (PLA), which is get­ting in­creas­ingly stronger. Most an­a­lysts be­lieve that it will only take the PLA hours to take down the is­land if the main­land resorts to force. It doesn’t mat­ter what weapons the is­land has pur­chased.

What Tai­wan needs most to keep it­self safe is to hold the po­lit­i­cal bot­tom line rather than pick­ing a wrong path that leads to the ex­treme con­di­tion, in which the PLA has no al­ter­na­tive but to take de­ci­sive ac­tion. The ma­jor arms pur­chase could prob­a­bly bring the is­land greater risks in­stead of se­cu­rity.

Tai­wan must never try to pro­mote de jure in­de­pen­dence. If the is­land goes to­ward the di­rec­tion with the salamis­lic­ing strat­egy, it will only ac­cu­mu­late risks for it­self. Tai­wan must not act as a pup­pet of the US to con­tain the Chi­nese main­land. Oth­er­wise, it will only find a dead end. The US won’t be able to pro­tect it and the Chi­nese main­land will def­i­nitely not let it have its way.

Tai­wan con­sid­ers Chi­nese main­land-us ten­sions an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop its ties with the US. The is­land has been try­ing to get in­volved in the US Indo-pa­cific Strat­egy, proac­tively en­hanc­ing its role as a lever­age of the US to strate­gi­cally con­tain the Chi­nese main­land. It is a very risky move.

The higher cost and the risk of re­sort­ing to force is an im­por­tant rea­son the Chi­nese main­land up­holds peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion. Once the is­land’s au­thor­i­ties, by co­op­er­at­ing with the US, sharply in­crease the main­land’s cost of main­tain­ing peace across the Tai­wan Straits, the main­land will cer­tainly re­con­sider its peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion pol­icy and de­lib­er­ate on other op­tions.

If the Tai­wan au­thor­i­ties in­sist on go­ing their own way, the PLA will likely take ac­tion against the is­land to ei­ther liberate the is­land or deter and alert Tai­wan se­ces­sion­ist forces. If the is­land’s au­thor­i­ties are bent on their wrong way, the main­land will in­crease military pres­sure on the is­land. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, the prob­a­bil­ity of cross-straits military fric­tions will grow, which will boost the like­li­hood that the PLA will take force­ful military mea­sures to pun­ish the is­land. The DPP will pay for its ventures.

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