Policy talk spotlights arms sales issue

Updated: 2011-05-27 14:53

(China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

Policy talk spotlights arms sales issue
Larry Lee (left), president of China Daily USA, presents a gift to J. Stapleton Roy, former US ambassador to China, after a discussion hosted by China Daily USA and the US-China Policy Foundation in Washington on Wednesday.[Agencies] 

WASHINGTON — China and the United States should have new approaches on the sensitive US arms sales to Taiwan, which is regarded as one of the major challenges in bilateral relations, US experts said on Wednesday.

In the past three decades, the cross-Straits relations have progressed with closer economic ties between the mainland and Taiwan. As unification becomes realistic with years of efforts from related parties, arms sales from the US to Taiwan has consistently hampered complicated China-US relations since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.

US arms sales to Taiwan raised a “gigantic” question to this issue, J. Stapleton Roy, former US ambassador to China from 1991 to 1995, said during his speech at the policy discussion held by China Daily USA and the USChina Policy Foundation.

“The last 30 years of cross- Straits relationship, in many ways, is a success story,” he said. “In 1979, peaceful unification is theoretical concept. After 40 years of the development, it is much more possible to think realistically about the peaceful resolution of the issue.

“Taiwan’s interests now are embedded with the relationship with the mainland and the strengthened economic tie makes this process almost irreversible.”

Though people should have greater confidence for a peaceful solution of this question over time, he said, arms sales wrongfully have become the dominant factor in the Taiwan question, which has severely hurt the relationship between China and the US.

Beijing broke off military ties with the US in January last year after the US approved a $6 billion arms sale to Taiwan. China rejected a proposal in June for a visit by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

With efforts from both sides, the tension has been eased and the ties rebuilt after a series of high-level official exchanges, especially after the state visit to the US by President Hu Jintao in January.

During his trip to the US last week, Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, also reiterated that if the Pentagon goes ahead with additional arms sales to Taiwan, it would definitely undermine Sino-US military relations.

“The US and China have common interests in peaceful resolution. That’s the driving factor in the cross-Straits relationship, not the arms sales,” said Roy, the former ambassador and director of Kissinger Institute on China and the US at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

He suggested that Washington should rethink whether it needs to maintain the same level of arms sales to Taiwan under the new circumstances, while Beijing should rethink how to deal with the arms sales and the cross- Straits ties.

“If the 817 Communique is no longer adequate for the new situation, how about we create a new framework?” he said. “The arms sales is going to continue; the question is that can it be managed in a way that enables the dominant issue, which is the desire for the peaceful resolution, to be the dominant factor of our relationship.”

In the China-US Aug 17 Joint Communique in 1982, the US declared that it will not seek long-term arms sales to Taiwan and the level of arms sales will be reduced over time.

Chas Freeman, former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, noted that as the arms sales issue is moving back to a more central role in the strategic interaction between the US and China, both sides need strategic vision and statecrato make greater efforts to understand both the circumstances and the perceptions of the other and to act accordingly.

“The framework for managing military tensions over the Taiwan question that the two sides worked out in 1979 and elaborated in 1982 has been abandoned,” he said at Wednesday’s event.

“Neither side views the other as in compliance with the agreements that created this framework. Nothing has replaced them,” he said.


Suzhou: Heaven on Earth

Time-tested adages sing praises of Suzhou, and Michael Paul Franklin finds it's not hard to understand why on a recent visit.

The sky's the limit

Chinese airline companies are increasingly recruiting pilots and flight attendants as the industry experiences rapid expansion.

Diving into history

China's richest cultural heritage may lie in the deep, like exhibits in a giant underwater museum.

Truly a super woman
Refreshingly beautiful
V-Day parade