If President Ma Ying-jeou doesn't clean house in his military, the US could become more reluctant to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan
Much ink has been spilled in recent months over the Obama administration's reluctance to sell Taiwan the 66 F-16C/D fighters it has been requesting since 2007. A final decision is expected by Oct. 2, and while many observers predict that political considerations will lead Washington to nix the deal, another factor may be at work: the penetration of almost every sector of Taiwanese society by Chinese intelligence. For the U.S. government and defense manufacturers, any arms sale to Taiwan carries the risk that sensitive military technology will end up in Beijing.
This worry is not new. Anyone who has followed developments in Taiwan over the years knows how deeply Chinese forces have infiltrated Taiwan's military, especially its senior officers. For years American officials have looked on in amazement as newly retired Taiwanese generals traveled to China for a round of golf, were wined and dined by their counterparts in the People's Liberation Army, and no doubt had their inebriated brains picked for information.
Taiwan's reputation has not been helped by a string of embarrassing cases involving members of the armed forces or civilians who spied for China. Some of the programs compromised involved American assistance, such as the Po Sheng "Broad Victory" upgrade to the military's command and control infrastructure. Even more damaging are the instances when culprits got away with a light sentence. Earlier this year Lai Kun-chieh, a software engineer, received a mere slap on the wrist for attempting to pass information about the PAC-3 Patriot missile defense system to China.
My commentary, published today in the Wall Street Journal, continues here.