Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Taiwan.

Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Taiwan.

Keywords

Taiwan arms sales
Asia Reassurance Initiative Act,

General

Taiwan only has itself to blame for US arms sales to Taiwan. This article provides a general overview of the reasons the US sells arms to Taiwan and China’s considerations.

F-35 sale to Taiwan not worth the “risk,” experts say.  This article discusses the pros and cons of selling the F-35 to Taiwan.

A Farewell to Arms? US Security Relations with Taiwan and the Prospects for Stability in the Taiwan Strait (2017). This is an excellent scholarly work that introduces both sides of the debate in a way that is easy to understand.  First, we show that a decision to terminate US arms sales to Taiwan could destabilize cross-Strait relations in ways not fully appreciated in existing studies. In particular, a reduced US commitment to Taiwan could help transform the basic structure of cross-Strait relations from a deterrence dynamic to a compellence dynamic. But we qualify our argument by emphasizing that ending arms sales to Taiwan could have other, stabilizing effects and that under the right circumstances such a shift in US policy could actually reduce the likelihood of military conflict in the Taiwan Strait. Second, we show that a tougher PRC response to US arms sales could reveal a stronger US commitment to Taiwan than was previously evident; Taiwan, in turn, would have more leeway to pursue nonaccommodating policies toward Beijing. In other words, both proposed policy adjustments would carry a significant risk of backfiring, as they would risk producing outcomes completely antithetical to the original intent of the policy shift. We emphasize throughout that these counterintuitive outcomes would not necessarily arise but that they are real possibilities that should induce caution in both Washington and Beijing.

The Ominous Triangle: China, Taiwan, the United States (2016). This paper examines the complex issue of the triangular relationship between China, Taiwan and the United States. Due to its importance to both China and the United States, Taiwan has burdened the relationship between the two powers as long and as fierce as any. China considers Taiwan an integral part of its territory and has been unwilling to reject the use of force to settle the Taiwan issue. Under these conditions, Taiwan has chosen to balance China by aligning itself with the United States in order to avoid submission or destruction. Although the U.S. supports a “one-China” policy, it is strongly opposed to any move that could change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by force. While both Beijing and Washington often emphasize positive engagement and dialogue, divergent interests of China and the United States over Taiwan, along with their contest for domination in East Asia, have remained a focal point of contention that could send the two powers on a collision course

Pro

Time to stop US arms sales to Taiwan (2017). This is from Chinese newspaper, but Pro cards are hard to find so….

China demands halt to US arms sales to Taiwan. This article makes a strong claim that China wants the US to stop arms sales to Taiwan. It could be used as a link to a China-US relations advantage.

China’s military will defeat US plans to sell arms to Taiwan. This article quotes Chinese officials who hint that China will attack Taiwan if the US sells arms to Taiwan and that stopping the sales will improve US-China relations.

Bill Owens, America Must Start Treating China as a Friend Financial Times, November 17, 2009 This is an older article, but it does say we should reduce arms sales to Taiwan.

US reasserts support for arms sales to Taiwan amid threats. (2018). This article argues the US needs to expand its support for arms sales to Taiwan to deal with China’s growing offensive threat capabilities

Charles L. Glaser, “A U.S.-China Grand Bargain? The Hard Choice between Military Competition and Accommodation,” International Security 39, no. 4 (2015): 49–90. Note: This article supports abandoning arms sales to Taiwan as part of a grand bargain designed to accommodate China’s peaceful rise. Is a grand bargain topical? If not, this is a Con article
“Although the probability of achieving a grand bargain may be low, the United States should not now unilaterally end its commitment to defend Taiwan. China appears too likely to misinterpret such a large change in U.S. policy, which could fuel Chinese overconªdence and intensify challenges to U.S. interests—most importantly, the U.S. security role in Northeast Asia. In large part, this judgment is informed by China’s more assertive regional policies and pronouncements over the past decade. I do believe, though, that this is a close call. Prior to 2008 or so, unilateral accommodation might have been the United States’ best option. Thus, a sustained moderation in China’s policies could support a different decision in the future. Finally, U.S. pursuit of a grand bargain would not prevent the United States from eventually moving to unilateral accommodation—if during U.S. pursuit of a grand bargain China made clear that agreement was impossible, unilateral accommodation would remain a fallback option. U.S. unilateral adoption of less dramatic changes in the government’s Taiwan policy—most importantly, slowing or ending U.S. arms sales to Taiwan110—is an option that might provide a better balance of risks and benefit. Even this much smaller change in U.S. policy, however, risks sending China the wrong signal.”

Charles L. Glaser, “Will China’s Rise Lead to War? Why Realism Does Not Mean Pessimism,” Foreign Affairs 90, no. 2 (2011): 80–91 Glaser  suggests that ending the US commitment to defend Taiwan would bring with it two significant benefits for the US-China relationship. First, it could improve US-China relations because such a shift in US policy would remove a key source of mistrust in Beijing concerning US motivations. Second, ending US support for Taiwan—by removing the key potential source of military conflict between China and the United States—would reduce military competition between Washington and Beijing. Glaser thus proposes a “grand bargain,” in which the United States would end its commitment to Taiwan in return for Chinese willingness to “resolve its maritime disputes on ‘fair’ terms” and to accept a long-term US security presence in East Asia.  Note: This article is not specific to arms sales. Instead, it argues for general reduction in the US security commitment to Taiwan. 

Chas W. Freeman Jr., “Beijing, Washington and the Shifting Balance of Prestige,” speech delivered at China Maritime Institute. Chas Freeman warns that a continued US commitment to Taiwan is incompatible with (a) waning US relative power in the region and (b) the importance that the PRC places on the issue. A failure to accommodate US policy to new geopolitical realities, in turn, risks future military conflict over an issue about which China cares deeply.  Note: This article does not specifically recommend reducing arms sales but it argues for a general reduction in the US commitment to Taiwan. 

John Mearsheimer argues along similar lines that China’s rise as a great power, if it continues, will mean that the current US security commitment to Taiwan will be increasingly unsustainable. Taiwan will ultimately be forced to accommodate growing Chinese power. John J. Mearsheimer, “Say Goodbye to Taiwan,” National Interest, March- See also Bruce Gilley, “Not So Dire Straits: How the Finlandization of Taiwan Benefits US Security,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 1 (2010): 44–60; Robert Sutter, “Taiwan’s Future: Narrowing Straits,” National Bureau of Asian Research Analysis, 2011; Ted Galen Carpenter, “Walking a Tightrope: U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan,” Cato Institute, 2011

Con

Thoughts on US arms sales to Taiwan (2014). This article argues that arms sales to Taiwan both deter China and strengthen Taipie’s negotiating posture.

Here’s what China would get in a $1.3 billion deal with the US (2017). This article discusses the need for arms sales to offset US military upgrades.

A smarter way to sell arms to Taiwan?  (2017). This article proposes that weapons to Taiwan should be sold in smaller quantities but more frequently in order to deter China’s aggression.

A decision on arms sales for Taiwan is needed (2017). This article contends that the US needs to move ahead with arms sales to Taiwan in order to offset China’s rising capabilities.

Uncharted Straits: The Future of US-Taiwan Relations (2007) This book contains a number of chapters that respond to the argument that the US should cut arms sales to Taiwan.

Can the United States abandon Taiwan (2017)? The author clearly answers this in the negative.

Why the United States should stand by Taiwan (2012).

Why the United States shouldn’t abandon Taiwan (2016)

See especially Nancy Bernkopf Tucker and Bonnie Glaser, “Should the United States Abandon Taiwan?,” Washington Quarterly 34, no. 4 (2011): 23–37; Shelley Rigger, “Why Giving Up Taiwan Will Not Help Us with China,” American Enterprise Institute, November 29, 2011, www.aei.org/publication/ why-giving-up-taiwan-will-not-help-us-with-china/; Bush, Uncharted Strait; Douglas H. Paal, “China: Reaction to Taiwan Arms Sales,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Web Commentary, January 31, 2010, http://carnegieendowment.org/2010/01/31/china-reaction-to-taiwan-arms-sales; T.Y. Wang, “Analyzing the ‘Abandoning Taiwan’ Argument,” paper presented at the American Association for Chinese Studies Annual Meeting, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 2011. Glaser (“Grand Bargain”) himself highlights some of the risks associated with walking away from a commitment to Taiwan. 11. A similar model is developed in Scott L. Kastner, Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009); and Scott L. Kastner, “US Rebalancing: Implications for Taiwan’s Security and Stability across the Taiwan Strait,” in The US Strategic Pivot to Asia and Cross-Strait Relations: Economic and Security Dynamics, ed. Peter C.Y. Chow (New York: Palgrave, 2014), 97–112.