- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

Senators taken to task for timid Taiwan stance

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Craig Thomas wrote one of the most poorly reasoned Op-Ed pieces about the China-Taiwan military balance that I have ever read ("Caution or urgency in arms for Taiwan?" March 28).
The column did nothing more than parrot Beijings argument that the Aegis destroyers Taiwan has requested are "offensive" weapons that threaten China. Since this argument is objectively false, it was disturbing to see two U.S. senators repeat it as if the Chinese Embassy were their only source of information.
Taiwans strategic situation is inherently defensive. The prosperous island democracy may pose an ideological threat to Chinas communist dictatorship, but 23 million Taiwanese cannot pose a military threat to 1.2 billion Chinese. Beijing has been making all the threats, backed by military exercises aimed at assaulting the "renegade province."
The Aegis destroyers would have two missions defending Taiwan. The first and most talked about is to serve as the base for an area missile defense against Chinas buildup across the strait. The day before the senators column appeared, Adm. Dennis Blair, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Beijing's missile program was "destabilizing" and would lead to a U.S. response unless halted. The proper response is to help Taiwan defend itself. The alternative is put U.S. ships and sailors in harms way to do it.
The other mission of the Aegis ships would be to counter the growing Chinese navy. Beijing already has taken possession of two Russian-built "Sovremenny"-class destroyers and has more on order. When the first Sovremenny arrived last year, Beijings state-run China Business Times carried a front-page photo of the missile-armed warship with the headline, "The bottom line on the Taiwan question."
That aggressive attitude by Beijing must be deterred, and providing Taiwan with Aegis destroyers is the most appropriate way to even up a growing naval imbalance.

WILLIAM R. HAWKINS
Senior fellow for national security studies
U.S. Business and Industry Council
Washington
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Craig Thomas seemed to have forgotten one important truth it takes two to tango ("Caution or urgency in arms for Taiwan?" Op-Ed, March 28).
Taiwans President Chen Shui-bian is already committed to the "meaningful dialogue" the two senators say the Bush administration should seek between China and Taiwan. Chinas response has been to completely ignore this democratically elected official and instead insist on the acceptance of its one-China principle as a precondition for dialogue.
There also were two tango steps to the three joint communiques that the senators are so concerned about: A good relationship with the United States is dependent upon Chinas commitment to peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. Weve kept our dance in order. China keeps stepping on our toes and threatening force against Taiwan.
Rather than worrying about how China might perceive the sale of Aegis-equipped destroyers to Taiwan, perhaps the senators would follow the lead of Adm. Dennis Blair, our commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week that he worried about the continued buildup of Chinese intermediate-range missiles pointed at Taiwan. This puts muscle to Chinese bluster.
China is the provocateur, senators, not Taiwan.

CHIH-MEI L. CHEN
McLean

New York Avenue resurfacing goes smoothly

I was surprised to see on the front page of your paper such a narrow view of the District Division of Transportations unprecedented mobilization to resurface heavily traveled New York Avenue from Bladensburg Road NE to South Dakota Avenue NE ("Chaos on the avenue," March 24).
You chose to tell of motorist annoyance, including clashes with construction workers, backups that were apparently unrelated to the work actually taking place and the frustration of some of The Washington Times employees who had to be escorted through the job site.
It was unfortunate that you excluded other particulars as reported by other news media. Tie-ups were kept to a minimum, signals were adjusted as circumstances changed, Metropolitan Police Department officers prevented gridlock and kept traffic moving and variable message signs warned motorists of the project, not only in the District but also in Maryland. And workers going to The Times were, for the most part, allowed through the job site.
My senior staff and I were on hand for virtually the entire three days of the project and we are all very proud of finishing the job ahead of our two, self-imposed deadlines. We said we would reopen outbound at 3 p.m. on Friday; it was open at 2:15. We said we would reopen inbound between 3 and 4 p.m. on Saturday; it reopened at 2:40. We also had the support of most motorists as well as the Metropolitan Police Department, the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency, the office of the public advocate, the mayors City-Wide Call Center, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the National Park Services U.S. Park Police and local news media to get the word out. I am also delighted with the work of the contractor, Fort Myer Construction Co..
Overall, the District Division of Transportation succeeded in minimizing the inconvenience and risk to both motorists and workers as it sought to improve this part of New York Avenue and protect the roadway foundation for at least another decade.

DAN TANGHERLINI
Acting Director
District Division of Transportation
Department of Public Works
Washington

Considering United States productivity, its U.N. dues are a bargain

In his March 26 Commentary piece, "Beneficial payment cap on peacekeeping," Brett D. Schaefer says that although Congress is expected to approve payment of some $582 million in U.N. arrears, "U.N. officials claim we owe considerably more some $685 million."

Actually, by the end of 2000, the United States owed $1.3 billion dollars a figure provided not by U.N. officials, but one that has been calculated on the basis of decisions made by the General Assembly, of which the United States is a member.

Mr. Schaefer also repeatedly refers to a "promise to lower the U.S. assessment." In December, the General Assembly decided to adopt a new scale of assessments for 2001-2003, under which the United States is responsible for 22 percent of the regular U.N. budget, down from 25 percent. The General Assembly also agreed to revise, from July 1, 2001, the formula for peacekeeping assessment rates.

Because the formula for calculating peacekeeping assessments is based on countries regular budget assessments, the U.S. share of the peacekeeping budget also will decline, from more than 30 percent last year to a little more than 28 percent in the first half of this year. By the second half of 2003, as a result of the new formula, the U.S. share of the peacekeeping budget should be a little more than 27 percent.

With these adjustments, as many U.N. member states have noted, the United States will be in a unique position among high-income countries, having a U.N. assessment rate that is below its share of the member states combined gross national product. Any claim that "the United States will be overcharged for quite a while" ought to be evaluated in that context.

FRED ECKHARD

Spokesman for the Secretary-General

of the United Nations

New York


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