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Ending US weapon sales to Taiwan might also end a very lucrative trade that has helped the US economy greatly, writes Wendell Minnick in Defense News. Taiwan has spent USD 16,5 billion over the past five years, but calls to end the trade become louder.

In January, a roundtable discussion at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs recommended the U.S. “re-examine” continued arms sales to Taiwan in an effort to improve ties with China. Members of the roundtable included Joseph Prueher and Timothy Keating, both retired U.S. Pacific Command commanders, and James Shinn, a national intelligence officer for East Asia at the Central Intelligence Agency. The roundtable report said arms sales to Taiwan had damaged Sino-U.S. ties and had become a “vicious circle.” The report further recommended that Washington re-evaluate the Taiwan Relations Act.

But a report has now detailed the economic benefits:

The CRS report, “Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990,” by Shirley Kan, indicates that Taiwan arms sales generate big revenue for U.S. defense companies despite the absence of a defense treaty with Taiwan. In 2007, Taiwan bought $3.7 billion in U.S. arms; in 2008, $6.4 billion; and in 2010, $6.4 billion. No sales to Taiwan were approved in 2009. Among customers of U.S. arms worldwide, Taiwan ranked fourth behind Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia from 2002 to 2009.

From 2000 to 2010, under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, Taiwan procured Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile defense systems, UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, Harpoon missiles, Osprey-class mine-hunting ships, Kidd-class destroyers, AIM-120 ad­vanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA air defense missiles, a surveillance radar program for early warning of Chinese missile launches, AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters and P-3C Orion anti-submarine patrol aircraft.

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Wendell Minnick

More in Wendell Minnick’s article.

Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.

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