- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

With the visit this week of Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen, President Bush has the opportunity to execute a more appropriate and realistic policy toward China.
A recent congressional report found that Taiwan urgently needs to bolster its defense, both in terms of weaponry and intelligence, and should establish closer ties with the U.S. military. The president should put into effect the recommendations of this report, and thereby show Beijing that he remains vigilant as regards the security threat that China poses to the United States and its friends.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report concludes that current U.S. policy toward Taiwan is "outdated, dangerous," and could lead to a conflict between Taiwan and China that would involve the United States. Bill Gertz, a reporter for The Washington Times, obtained a copy of the report.
Taiwan and the United States should set up direct communications between the Pentagon, the Hawaii-based Pacific Command and Taiwan's Defense Ministry, the report said. Furthermore, the militaries of the two countries should train and conduct exercises together. Finally, Taiwan wants and needs a variety of weapons systems, which it would like to purchase from the United States, the report said. Four Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyers, to improve Taiwan's capability to defend against aircraft attacks; P-3 submarine-hunting aircraft with longer-range and more accurate missiles, to challenge any potential Chinese blockade, and high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM), to counter new Chinese S-300 surface-to-air missiles deployed near Taiwan, are among the items on Taiwan's wish list.
Taiwan's need for better protection from China is substantiated by recent U.S. intelligence, which found that when the Chinese military simulated a sea-borne blockade against Taiwan, mock U.S. aircraft carriers did absolutely nothing, indicating the Chinese don't expect the U.S. military to defend Taiwan in such a scenario.
China conducted the military exercise seven months after U.S. Adm. Dennis Blair, the Pacific commander, had met privately with top Chinese generals in Beijing, and informed them that the United States stands ready to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. According to one official, the Chinese generals dismissed the statement as "a laughable bluster." And seven months ago, they would have been right. The same ought not be true today.
Mr. Bush must demonstrate to China that the Clintonian, for-sale foreign policy era is now over. This does not mean that we should give up on having trade relations with the Chinese, just that the United States should be willing to take a more balanced and realistic approach. Taiwan deserves as much.


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