Taiwan arms freeze
Despite the growing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait, the State Department and White House National Security Council have frozen all U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said Wednesday.
Adm. Timothy Keating, the Pacific commander, said after a speech to the Heritage Foundation that policy-makers have "reconciled" Taiwan's aging forces with China's missile and aircraft buildup opposite Taiwan. They have determined that "there is no pressing, compelling need for, at this moment, arms sales to Taiwan," he said.
Other officials said the arms sale cutoff was the work of U.S. Ambassador to China Clarke Randt, who urged the arms cutoff to Taiwan to avoid upsetting China prior to the Olympics.
The arms freeze comes after years of pressuring by the Bush administration for Taiwan to pass a defense spending bill that would lead to purchases of submarines, missile defenses and aircraft. Taiwan also is seeking to buy new F-16s.
Asked if he supports the weapons freeze, Adm. Keating said, "it's a tough question."
"I'm hopeful, optimistic that the Taiwan defensive systems and the training of the Taiwan forces and the motivation of the Taiwan military is sufficient to convince China it is very much not in China's interest to come across the Strait in a military fashion."
Adm. Keating also revealed that the Pacific Command has a Joint Task Force of ships, aircraft, troops and other forces that is "committed" to responding to a conflict between China and Taiwan. "We do have a task force that does that on a day-to-day basis," he said, noting that forces are added and removed from the task force that is dedicated to a Taiwan war.
On deterring China, Adm. Keating said: "I want them to know they're going to lose" if China launches a war, Adm. Keating said. "So don't bother."
"Every day that missiles aren't flying across the strait I believe are [days] that deterrence is effective."