Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Taiwan’s self-defeating behavior

For the sake of the longstanding US-Taiwan alliance, it is incumbent upon Taipei to answer one question at this critical juncture: Where is Bill Moo?

At a time of great uncertainty over Taiwan’s ability to purchase advanced combat aircraft from the US, one would expect Taipei to do its utmost to send the right signals to Washington, not only that it takes national defense seriously, but also that it would ensure that US technology does not end up in China’s hands.

Struggling to convince the electorate that it is committed to national defense, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration in recent years made no less than 21 appeals to Washington to agree to the sale of 66 F-16C/Ds. However, there is evidence that those sound bites aside, Taiwan’s efforts to secure the sale under Ma have been halfhearted at best. As a result, various reports have recently stated that the deal is all but dead and that Taiwan will have to make do with upgrades to its aging F-16A/Bs, which could include top-of-the-line radar technology.

Now recent developments are threatening even that. Enter Ko-suen “Bill” Moo (慕可舜), a former top sales representative for Lockheed Martin who was arrested in Florida in 2005 for attempting to sell, among other items, an F-16 engine to a region of China long known for its reverse-engineering of military technology. After doing time in a US federal prison, Moo was deported to Taiwan last week, where he promptly disappeared from radar screens.

However hard Taiwanese officials try to argue that Moo never broke any laws in this nation, the very presence in Taiwan of Lockheed Martin’s former top sales representative for radar and C4ISR systems for Taiwan, added to his deep contacts with the then-upper echelons of the air force, are enough to make one pause. Even more worrying is the fact that the authorities appear to be clueless as to his whereabouts.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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