U.S. business group voices concern over Biden arms sales approach to Taiwan

06/10/2022 05:39 PM
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Image for illustrative purpose only. File photo courtesy of the Navy
Image for illustrative purpose only. File photo courtesy of the Navy

Taipei, June 10 (CNA) A U.S. business group issued a statement Thursday questioning U.S. President Joe Biden's arms sales policy for Taiwan, in response to the recent announcement of a fourth Taipei-bound arms package approved by the administration containing naval spare and repair parts.

"There appears to now be little to no U.S. support for substantial Taiwan force modernization efforts," Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, said in the statement.

The Biden Administration had undertaken "the most significant narrowing of U.S.-Taiwan security assistance" since the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act was passed, Hammond-Chambers said, adding "we should expect to see mostly sustainment and munitions programs" in terms of arms package to Taiwan through the remainder of Biden's term in office.

"One significant impact this approach will have is to constrain force modernization for entire areas of Taiwan's military capability," according to the council which includes defense contractors among its members.

The council was responding to the latest announcement of a possible arms package to Taiwan of naval spare and repair parts at an estimated cost of US$120 million, the fourth since Biden took office in January 2021.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on Wednesday it has notified Congress of the proposed sale that included unclassified spare and repair parts for ships and ship systems, logistical technical assistance and other elements to sustain Taiwan's surface vessel fleet.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council said it welcomes the announcement and acknowledges the need to sustain Taiwan's military.

However, the council argued that Taiwan's military is likely to see "the loss of infrastructure, hollowing out of operational experience, and the loss of decades of expertise" as a result of the Biden Administration's approach.

Last month, the council said the Biden Administration's new arms sale policy to Taiwan -- which focuses more on investing in Taiwan's "asymmetric capabilities" -- would undermine Taiwan's defense capability.

The Administration approved its first arms sale to Taiwan in August 2021 -- a US$750 million deal for 40 Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers.

This was followed by a US$100 million package in February 2022 that included equipment and services to support participation in the Patriot International Engineering Services Program and Field Surveillance Program for five years.

The third, in April, was a US$95 million package of equipment and services aimed at maintaining Taiwan's U.S.-made Patriot missile air defense system.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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