Thursday, February 16, 2012

Senators call on Obama to be tough with Xi Jinping

A letter urged the president to make it clear that the US has an unwavering commitment to provide Taiwan with the tools necessary for its self-defense

US President Barack Obama must show strong support for the vital security interests of Taiwan, a key strategic partner, when he meets Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) at the White House, US senators said in a letter to Obama.

The letter, signed by US senators John Cornyn, Robert Menendez and 10 other members of the upper house on Capitol Hill, said that as the rapid modernization and lack of transparency of China’s military troubled its neighbors, Obama should reinforce with Xi the US’ commitment to support the “robust democracy” and Washington’s “steadfast commitment” to Taiwan and its security.

The US Department of Defense reports that China’s large-scale military modernization has “a focus on Taiwan contingencies,” the letter said, with an offensive buildup of more than 1,000 ballistic missiles and an air force that remains primarily focused on “building the capabilities required to pose a credible military threat to Taiwan and US forces in East Asia.”

To this end, the signatories called on Obama to announce the next defensive arms package to Taiwan prior to Xi’s visit to the US.

Obama, who met Xi at the White House on Tuesday, made no such announcement. Although the letter, which was dated Feb. 10, did not specify the type of arms they were hoping Obama would announce prior to Xi’s arrival, this was presumably a reference to the 66 F-16C/D aircraft that Taiwan has been requesting for years.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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