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Continuing the Discussion: Taiwan Arms Deal

BY LIBBA KING

JGraham

Name: John Graham

Age: 23

Hometown: London, England

Area of Specialization at the HNC: International Politics

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent U.S.-Taiwan arms deal?

Two retired U.S. Navy Frigates retrofitted and refurbished for Taiwan’s use.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

No. Last I checked, Taiwan was not aiming hundreds of missiles at the Mainland or conducting D-Day style amphibious drills to retake the Mainland.

How do you think the arms deal affects U.S.-China relations?

Negatively. The principal deterrent to Taiwan declaring independence is the threat of a People’s Liberation Army invasion. If I were part of the Chinese government, I would not appreciate a foreign country undermining that threat’s credibility.

Who do you think the United States is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

Hard to say, the People’s Republic of China is a much more important partner in the world, but U.S. credibility would be severely undermined if it abandoned Taiwan to accommodate China.

 

RKim

Name: Rebecca Kim

Age: 22

Hometown: Saratoga Springs, New York

Area of Specialization at the HNC: China Studies

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent U.S.-Taiwan arms deal?

Not specifics! I remember seeing a headline about it in The New York Times and reading that the Obama administration had agreed to sell arms but I cannot remember exactly what was included.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

I do not think that Taiwan by itself poses a military threat to Mainland China.

How do you think the arms deal affects U.S.-China relations?

I think that the most recent arms deal is a minor, passing hiccup in U.S.-China relations. I believe that while the Chinese government voiced opposition to the deal, there will not be many long-term, serious consequences over this deal. This deal is smaller than other deals in the past, which have resulted in little more than a stern talking-to from Beijing.

Who do you think the United States is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

I think the United States is in a very precarious position. China is not one to make enemies with; however, the United States does not want to break the arms agreement with Taiwan that it has held for decades and signal to other countries with similar agreements that the United States can be influenced by Beijing’s growing global power, beyond the economic power they have held for years. Adding a layer of complexity is the fact that ideologically, the United States would rather stand with a democracy rather than an authoritarian regime. However, when taking a step back and considering all that can be gained and lost, I believe the United States has stronger allegiance to Mainland China.

 

DLammers

Name: Dereck Lammers

Age: 24

Hometown: David, Panamá

Area of Specialization at the HNC: China Studies

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent US-Taiwan arms deal?

Yes. The U.S. is selling three frigates to Taiwan (basically in refurbished state), Apache helicopters, military sharing of strategy, and a reaffirmed commitment.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

No, in fact, Taiwan doesn’t have enough military power to attack other nations. At most, Taiwan could protect itself for a few hours until an ally intervened.

How do you think the arms deal affects US-China relations?

It affects relations, but mostly in a symbolic way. China will not enforce any sort of sanctions against Taiwan because it does not want to risk its relationship with the U.S. Nonetheless, China will voice its discontent every time the U.S. provides military assistance to Taiwan.

Who do you think the U.S. is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

The U.S. is loyal to both equally. It is imperative the U.S. provides a staunch commitment to its Defense Act with Taiwan so that other countries in Asia and the world see the iron-clad commitment it has as a hegemon. As for China, strong relations create stability and peace.

 

LYangzhi

Name: Liu Yangzhi (刘仰知)

Age: 26

Hometown: Jinan, Shandong Province, China

Area of Specialization at the HNC: International Relations and Economics

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent U.S.-Taiwan arms deal?

No, I guess some jets, anti-air missiles. This is what is included in usual deals, but I don’t know the exact details of this particular deal.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

I don’t. Even with U.S. arms and military assistance, the Chinese military is overwhelming in sheer size. Furthermore, China’s military is indeed catching up quickly.

How do you think the arms deal affects U.S.-Chinese relations?

Sure it does. But it has become routine and people have gotten used to it. It seems to me it has become a tool for the U.S. to leverage against China, so surely it affects the relationship. In response, the Chinese government may adjust its military equipment accordingly.

Who do you think the U.S. is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

While the U.S. does have an act to protect Taiwan, I see this arms deal as no more than a strategic move to contain China. It’s only national interest that matters to the U.S., and that’s why it turned to China in the 1970s, but contained it afterwards.

 

LYunan

Name: Ning Yunan (宁玉囡)

Age: 24

Hometown: Henan Province, China

Area of Specialization at the HNC: International Politics and Economics

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent U.S.-Taiwan arms deal?

No, some obsolete arms, just like previous deals probably.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

I don’t really think so. Mainland China’s military power is much stronger than Taiwan’s and Taiwan doesn’t have many advanced weapons.

How do you think the arms deal affects U.S.-China relations?

It won’t affect the relationship. China has made statements that it opposes this move by the U.S. However, China may not dwell on the issue in order to maintain a stable relationship with the U.S.

Who do you think the US is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

I think the U.S. is loyal to its national interests and does not want to be labeled as more loyal to either Taiwan or Mainland China.

 

GXiaochen

Name: Guan Xiaochen (管啸尘)

Age: 24

Hometown: Hubei Province

Area of Specialization at the HNC: American Studies

Do you know exactly what is included in the recent U.S.-Taiwan arms deal?

I learned from news reports that it includes anti-air and armor missiles, defensive ship systems and 36 AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles.

Do you think Taiwan poses a real military threat to Mainland China?

Not for now, but it could be in the future if mistrust and confrontation continue to build up between Mainland China, Taiwan, and the U.S. In that case, things will become extremely dangerous and hurt the interests of Mainland China and Taiwan, as well as other parties.

How do you think the arms deal affects U.S.-China relations?

Though an arms deal between Taiwan and the U.S. is nothing new, it is true that this will negatively affect US-China relations. While the U.S. may deem this as a method to help Taiwan strengthen its defenses, it should not be surprising to hear a different view from Mainland China. It is true that tensions along the Taiwan Strait will never die, but I don’t see how selling arms to Taiwan will help ease this tension.

Who do you think the US is more loyal to? Taiwan or China?

Currently it is still Taiwan. History plays a significant part in this, but I personally believe it has more to do with similar mindsets.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Article has been expanded at 14:17 GMT on 3 March 2016.

 

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