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U.S. commission backs arms sales to Taiwan

2014/11/21 13:33:04

Washington, Nov. 20 (CNA) A U.S. congressional commission recommended Thursday that Congress push for arms deals that would supply Taiwan with weapons necessary for its self-defense, in light of the shifting cross-Taiwan Strait military balance.

Also, Congress should seek to allow and encourage official travel to Taiwan by uniformed military personnel above the level of O6 and urge Cabinet-level officials to make more frequent visits to Taiwan to promote bilateral exchanges, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) said in its annual report to Congress.

Despite a "robust but low-profile" security partnership between Washington and Taipei, the U.S. government has not authorized a major arms sale to Taiwan since 2011, which allows China to further tip the cross-strait balance of power in its favor, according to the report.

"China's military modernization has significantly increased Beijing's ability to conduct military operations against Taiwan and to deter, delay and deny any U.S. intervention in a cross-strait conflict," it said.

"China now is able to threaten U.S. bases and operating areas throughout the Asia Pacific, including those that it previously could not reach with conventional weapons, such as U.S. forces on Guam," the report said.

Since 2000, China has significantly upgraded the quality of its air and maritime forces and expanded the types of platforms it operates, it said.

Together with the fielding of robust command, control, communication, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities, these improvements have increased China's ability to challenge the U.S. and its allies and partners for air and maritime superiority in the Asia Pacific, the report stated.

It predicted that China's military power will grow rapidly between now and 2020 with the addition of approximately 60 new submarines and surface ships; China's first carrier-based aviation wing and second aircraft carrier; and 600 new modern combat aircraft, including China's first fifth-generation fighters.

Also, China's ballistic and cruise missiles have the potential to provide the People's Liberation Army with a decisive military advantage in the event of a regional conflict and are contributing to a growing imbalance in the regional security dynamics, the report said.

The USCC was created by the U.S. Congress in 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

The commission is currently chaired by Dennis C. Shea, former assistant secretary for policy, development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

(By Tony Liao and Y.F. Low)