Some in Taiwan Say U.S. Uses Double Standard in Asia
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
Taiwan was rebuked on May 3 by the director of the American Institute in Taiwan, who complained the country is not taking defense seriously. Some analysts say his remarks underscore a double standard the United States applies in Asia.
Stephen Young, the de facto U.S. ambassador here, said during a press conference that domestic politics were hampering a controversial budget for P-3 Orion maritime patrol planes, six batteries of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) air defense missiles and a funded study on submarines.
“We believe that Taiwan is not responding appropriately to this steady buildup of the military across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “It seems to me that this is a fundamental security problem for Taiwan. But it unfortunately also causes Taiwan’s friends in the United States to question whether our security partner here is serious about maintaining a credible defense.”
Young also criticized Taiwan’s recent announcement that it is developing a land-attack cruise missile (LACM) capable of hitting China. “The United States feels that the focus should be on defensive, and not offensive, weapons. ... In fact, we think Taiwan should be placing its emphasis on, its missile defense,” he said.
China has approximately 800 to 900 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan, and defense analysts here argue that six batteries of PAC-3s will do little in the event of a saturation missile attack from China.
Local analysts are complaining that Young grumbles that Taiwan does not take defense seriously because it does not want to buy U.S.-made weapons, but at the same time criticizes its development of a LACM.
“On the ‘offensive missiles,’ I have to say that Taiwan knows well regarding the utility of LACM and possible consequences in a contingency across the Strait, and the inability of the U.S. to stop or dissuade China’s missile buildup,” said Alexander Huang, a senior associate of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies who lives in Taipei.
“Taiwan’s development of offensive capability, in addition to hardening and infrastructure protection, is one of the investments aiming to disrupting or complicating China’s war planning,” he said. “The LACM may not be a provocation, but it can be seen as an indigenous effort in defense modernization, and a reflection of Taiwan’s will in strengthening her homeland defense.”
Arthur Ding, a cross-strait military affairs expert at the National Chengchi University, argues that Washington uses a double standard in Asia.
Ding points out that South Korea has offensive missiles and Washington does nothing about it.
“This is not the case for Taiwan, and this is why the U.S. is concerned over Taiwan’s surface-to-surface missile program,” he said. “Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the U.S. really pressures Taiwan to terminate its surface-to-surface missile program. There is always a gap between ‘statement’ and ‘deed.’”