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2015年12月25日 (金)

米の武器台湾へ 地域の安定へ関与が不可欠だ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S. weapons sale to Taiwan crucial contribution to regional security
米の武器台湾へ 地域の安定へ関与が不可欠だ

Active U.S. engagement is essential for preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and by extension the whole of East Asia.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has decided to sell weapons worth $1.83 billion (about ¥220 billion) to Taiwan. Two decommissioned frigates, amphibious assault vehicles and small surface-to-air missiles are among the weapons the United States will provide to Taiwan.

A domestic U.S. law stipulates that the United States can provide weapons intended to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities. This stipulation was made with China in mind.

This latest arms sale is not only a political message in defense of Taiwan. It also appears aimed at keeping Beijing in check as it pushes ahead with the creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea and the establishment of military strongholds on those islands.

A candidate of Taiwan’s largest opposition party, which strongly favors Taiwan independence, will likely win January’s presidential election and usher in a new administration. This may lead to deterioration in the ties between Beijing and Taipei. It seems the United States announced the weapons sale this month due to concern that doing so after the election could cause regional tensions to soar.

The United States and China earlier this month confirmed they would cooperate with regard to the Paris agreement, a framework that spells out steps to counter global warming from 2020. Both sides also want to avoid any decisive confrontations.

When the U.S. government announced weapons sales worth about $12 billion in total to Taiwan in 2010 and 2011, China responded angrily and temporarily suspended military exchanges with the United States. Compared with such instances, the latest sale does not include any cutting-edge weapons and could be described as “restrained.”

China has upper hand

China has deployed a huge number of missiles along its coast facing the Taiwan Strait, and is mass-producing sophisticated fighter aircraft and frigates. The military balance is overwhelmingly tilted in China’s favor.

Strengthening Taiwan’s air defense readiness and its ability to repel a landing force will be essential to the island’s defense. Taiwan had urged the United States to provide new-model fighter jets and submarines, as well as Aegis-equipped destroyers, but this did not eventuate. The Obama administration apparently did not authorize the sale of such weapons because they were deemed not to be necessary.

China’s Foreign Ministry has demanded that the United States scrap the weapons deal, and announced sanctions would be imposed on U.S. companies involved in the arms sale. However, Beijing did not go as far as halting military exchanges or taking other steps, so this protest was at a lower level than in previous cases. It appears China has judged that this arms package will not be a substantial threat to its security.

The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping is mistaken if it thinks it can continue military exchanges with the United States and avoid a cooling of bilateral relations even without halting its self-righteous maritime advances.

It is also important that Washington continues its strategy of sending U.S. military vessels through waters within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands China has built in the South China Sea. Such an operation was conducted in late October, and we think the United States needs to stick to its plan to conduct these patrols about twice every three months.

The United States must continue to take concrete steps to urge China to exercise self-control and show that it will not tolerate Beijing’s provocations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 24, 2015)


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