US arms sales to Taiwan: The real issues

The first country to complain when other countries make arms sales, it is the first also to seize an opportunity. The Taiwanese Navy to date had two American Guppy II class submarines, 50 years old, and two Dutch Zwaardvis submarines, bought in 1981. Now the USA confirms the order of 8 diesel submarines by Taiwan. Given that the US submarine fleet is totally nuclear, these diesel craft will have to be manufactured under licence in the USA or in Germany or the Netherlands in Europe. Should the latter be the case, the Chinese could apply economic and diplomatic pressure on these countries to cease production, forcing the USA into an embarrassing corner. In addition to the submarine contract, which should take three years to deliver, the USA is also preparing to sell 12 P3C maritime surveillance aircraft to Taipei. This should give the island an increased capacity to monitor the positions of China’s 64 tactical submarines and its 1 strategic missile craft. Included in the defence package sold by Washington to Peking are four Kidd class destroyers, 20 years old, but probably with more capabilities than the ships of the Chinese Navy. Washington thus increases Taiwan’s capacity to monitor movements by the People’s Republic of China, while at the same time it makes important arms sales and underlines its links with the anti-PRC government in Taipei.


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