Taiwan Arms Sales: “A Fly-Head-Sized Benefit”

The U.S. defense department cleared a contract late on Wednesday to allowing Lockheed Martin Corp to sell an unspecified number of advanced Patriot air defense missiles to Taiwan, Washington’s de facto embassy in Taipei said, according to Reuters News Agency. The package had originally been approved by former US President George W Bush in 2008. Scholars interviewed by Singapore’s United Morning News believe that the Obama administration chose this timing to make it clear to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, i. e. China and Taiwan, that a current brawl between Washington and Taipei on U.S. beef exports to Taiwan, and American arms sales to Taiwan, were two separate issues. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) immediately denounced the American decision on Thursday’s regular foreign ministry press conference. While the foreign ministry spokeswoman referred to general harm to U.S.-Chinese relations, Chinese Vice Admiral Yang Yi (杨毅) suggested that China should take defensive countermeasures against U.S. companies which sold weapons to Taiwan, but also wanted to sell aircraft and other goods to China, writes Reuters.

A patriotic military Chinese blogger who puts the pen to the front (以笔为锋) quotes a major general, Luo Yuan (罗援) as saying on Phoenix TV on Thursday that while the U.S. announcement harmed only recently-established trust between the American and Chinese military, it didn’t pose a threat towards China, quoting from a Sunzi strategem (小敌之坚,大敌之擒 – the smaller troops would be captured by the larger troops).

Barack Obama‘s supply list for Taiwan could also include design work on diesel-electric submarines, which warranted much more attention than the Patriot missiles, the blogger quotes Luo Yuan, but Luo didn’t believe that Taiwan had the capability of applying the design for building these submarines by itself, while the Netherlands and other countries which were able to build them [America isn’t] wouldn’t offend China (得罪中国) for petty profits (蝇头小利 ying tou xiao li, literally a fly head’s benefit) from arms sales to Taiwan.


MIM-104 Patriot, PAC-3 upgrade, Wikipedia as of January 8, 2010
German Type 209 diesel-electric submarine, Wikipedia as of January 8, 2010
Lee Kwan Yew: America must strike a Balance, November 7, 2009
Taiwan’s Hai Lung II submarine, Global Security, date unspecified

10 Responses to “Taiwan Arms Sales: “A Fly-Head-Sized Benefit””

  1. If I remember correctly China often says something about not interfering with internal affairs of a country. They should stick to their word and not interfere with Taiwan’s internal affairs.


  2. Taiwan is a renegade province, full of splittist elements. Besides, you need to take a correct political stance before you can decide what interfering with internal affairs means.


  3. Is it? China should leave Taiwan alone, because there are many splittist elements in Taiwan. They would only produce trouble in the harmonized… ahem, I mean harmonious society of mainland China. China needs to be protected from this evil place.


  4. I guess Beijing insists on “reunification”, peaceful or otherwise, for geostrategical reasons. There is no reason to believe that Taiwan would help to cut off shipping lanes for China, but control is better than trust, especially for the CCP which doesn’t even trust its own people.
    Besides, the “Taiwan issue” is a good teaser for patriotic waves that flock behind the leadership. Even if Beijing would like to, they would find it hard to abandon their claim without looking like sellouts, in the light of their own traditional propaganda.

    My (unproven) theory is that many Chinese citizens can’t bear the idea that there are people who speak the same language (more or less) than them, share much of their culture, but who are free citizens of a free country. I see Chinese patriotism as frequently rather destructive, and as something that opens out into blind nationalism.



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