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U.S. should maintain current policy on Taiwan's security: scholar

2012/07/30 18:27:25

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) The United States should maintain its current policy on security ties with Taiwan, which includes upgrades to the island's F-16 jet fighters and potential future arms sales, a visiting U.S. scholar said Monday.

Dennis Hickey, a professor at Missouri State University's Department of Political Science, said the U.S.' current policy has led to a program to retrofit Taiwan's F-16 A/B fleet, the sale of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles, and the potential sale of weapons and aircraft such as F-16 C/Ds.

Compared with extreme arguments advocating cutting off U.S. arms sales or massively increasing arms sales to Taiwan, the current policy "makes the most sense," Hickey told CNA.

China seems "to be able to live with the current policy," he added.

Hickey, who will stay in Taiwan throughout the week, is scheduled to deliver a paper on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan at a conference held by Academia Sinica to mark the 30th anniversary of a communique signed by the U.S. and China in 1982.

The joint communique states that the U.S. intends to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan and the Chinese government promises to strive for a peaceful resolution of outstanding differences with Taiwan.

Discussing options available for Washington in terms of arms sales to Taiwan, Hickey said terminating support for Taiwan is "outrageous" because Taiwan is an old friend of the U.S.

In 1979, when Washington and Taipei severed official ties, the U.S. Congress enacted the Taiwan Relations Act to oblige the U.S. to assist the island in defending itself.

"Cutting off Taiwan from weapons may actually embolden the mainland (China) to become more risky," Hickey said.

He also dismissed the argument that Washington should sell Taipei highly advanced weaponry such as the F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing fighter.

The F-35 will not be available for 10 years, he said, adding that Taiwan's defense budget may not be enough to procure such expensive aircraft.

The scholar also touched on U.S. beef, a contentious issue in Taiwan recently.

During his recent visit to Europe, Hickey said he noticed restaurants in Denmark were serving Australian beef, not beef from the U.S.

It is time for the U.S. to take a look at why some people do not want U.S. beef, he said.

"I'm worried about the beef," he added.

After a months-long debate, Taiwan's Legislature passed amendments to a food safety act last week, paving the way for imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, which is banned in Taiwan.

The U.S. has stressed that studies have shown ractopamine is safe. However, the European Union, China and other countries still remain opposed to the use of ractopamine.

(By Elaine Hou)