Ex-AIT chief warns against capping U.S. arms sales to Taiwan

01/15/2014 11:25 PM
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Washington, Jan. 14 (CNA) Richard Bush, a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said Tuesday it could be dangerous to set an annual ceiling on U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

"The danger of setting the cap (on arms sales) is it becomes the hard ceiling rather than the floating average," Bush said at a seminar on U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan at the Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank.

He was referring to a proposal recommended by the EastWest Institute, another U.S. think tank, that the United States cap its annual arms deliveries at a level to reduce sensitivity of the issue.

In evaluating weapons sales to Taiwan, Bush said, the United States should not look at the value of arms in dollar terms but instead should consider the military value.

"I do think it has become very important that we not look at the value of arms sale in dollar terms," Bush said.

The evaluation should focus on "how much and what we sell to Taiwan contribute to create the environment in which, at the political level, the two sides (of the Taiwan Strait) can continue to find the way out of their differences," Bush said.

While China has said that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in U.S.-China relations, it does not mean that the U.S. should accept such a claim, Bush said.

He said China's failure to fulfill its Taiwan-related political objectives has nothing to do with U.S. arms sales to Taiwan but rather has everything to do with the fact that its offers are unacceptable to Taiwan.

"I think the reason China hasn't fulfilled its political objectives is not because of our arms sales, it's because of its offers," Bush said.

AIT is a quasi-official organization authorized to handle Taiwan-U.S. relations in the absence of official ties.

(By Tony Liao and Sofia Wu)enditem /pc

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