The US-China relation is the most important foreign relation that the two great countries must maintain delicately since the direction of that relation will affect not only each country's future welfare significantly but also the ultimate stability and prosperity of the world. One of the most critical issue, oddly a world recognized domestic issue of China (recognized by the U.S. officially as well), is the cross-strait reunification issue, also known as the Taiwan issue. Historically, the U.S. was the strong supporter of Kuo-Ming-Tang (KMT), the Chinese party formed the first government of the Republic of China since the Chinese revolution toppled the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The KMT government led the defense war (1937-1945) against the Japanese invasion in China. Allying with the U.S., China won the bitter war in China but the KMT lost the control of Mainland to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1949 and retreated to Taiwan. The CCP had launched a massive and effective grassroots movement to gain the control of the Mainland not so much by 'communism' ideology (as later proven that Chinese people and CCP never accepted the 'Stalin' or Soviet style of communism) but more because the Chinese people suffered decades of poverty and desired a different, stronger and more effective regime advocating people’s basic economic rights.
In light of the history of KMT vs CCP, the U.S. regretted ‘her lost’ of China; the U.S. Congress had debated how could the U.S. let China turn into a Communist country. Anti-Communism was the US national policy still prevailing today. However, after seven decades, the KMT and CCP have changed and transformed beyond recognition. The KMT lost her power to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) formed in 1986 and yielded its claim or right to compete with other parties to govern the entire China. On the other hand, the DPP, inherited the influence of Japanese 50 years of occupation of Taiwan prior to the ending of WW II, was pursuing a pro-Japan and independent of China movement, first through its first presidential administration by Chen Shui Bian and now through Tsai Ing Wen, its second round of control of the Taiwan government. Since Nixon's visit to China in 1972, and Carter's formal recognition of China with PRC as China's sole government representative in 1979, the U.S. in a bi-partisan way has maintained the 'One China' policy, officially advocating a Mainland-Taiwan peaceful reunification policy. The Taiwan Relation Act (TRA) enacted on April 10, 1979 (H.R. 2479) was largely by the effort of pro-KMT lobbyists in the U.S. for insuring a peaceful Cross-Taiwan-Strait relation. The TRA, known as public law 96-8 defined the substantial but non-diplomatic relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan. TRA also requires the United States to have a policy "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character", and "to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." So the U.S. can sell defensive weapons to Taiwan for Taiwan's security reason. Naturally, CCP and Mainland China opposed this provision on the principle that such an act, providing weapons to any Chinese domestic party, is an interference of Chinese domestic issue.
On June 30, 2017, a long article, entitled "Here Is What Taiwan Would Get in $1.3B Arms Deal with U.S." was published in the War Zone of the Drive.com by Joseph Trevithick. Although the Drive.com is a commercial website for cars, the author is a known freelance journalist, a fellow at GlobalSecurity.org, a researcher and military analyst who writes on defense and has recently joined the Drive.com as the War Zone writer on 2-23-2017. Whether the eyeballs of car drivers are also eyeballs for military defense articles or not, the rich details of this ‘Taiwan Defense’ article deserve our comments and interpretation. Trevithick apparently has done a good deal of research on this Arms sale with fine details of weapons as if the buyer or seller deliberately provided him this supposedly secret military sales contract so he could let the world know. Will the Drive.com readers wonder why such an article appears? I doubt it, but I am certain that readers of this column are very curious why such weapons details are revealed.
On June 29, 2017, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Pentagon’s arms broker, announced that the U.S. State Department has cleared seven separate arms deals to Taiwan, totaling more than $1.3 billion. The “defensive” weapons are all clearly for improving Taiwan’s military to counter Mainland's superior forces. $400 million will pay for upgrading the Taiwanese military’s Surveillance Radar Program (SRP) to an integrated Command Control Computer Communication (4C) system. Then there’s another $80 million to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V)3 Electronic Warfare Systems aboard the Taiwanese Navy’s four Kee Lung-class destroyers (1970s vintage former US Navy ship) with radar warning capability. Five other deals are for missiles and torpedoes and associated components, spare parts, and other support services, enhancing Taiwan's F-16s with 70mi missile range (Taiwan Strait is 100mi wide). Another missile delivery would include 16 Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Block IIIA surface-to-air missiles, plus additional components either as spares or potentially to upgrade older versions of the weapons plus two potential batches of torpedoes and associated upgrade parts.
The above DSCA announced Arms sale to Taiwan had already been in the works under President Barack Obama, but his administration deferred to incoming President Donald Trump and his team. Whether or not this approval will consummate is still an open question since Trump's meeting with Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago seems to have changed Trump's view about China. "I think he's [Xi] doing an amazing job as a leader, and I wouldn't want to do anything that comes in the way of that,” Trump told Reuters in an interview after the meeting. “So, I would certainly want to speak to him first.” This kind of impression and expression would certainly make the delivery of the arms deal uncertain. China already protested the DSCA announcement based on principle even referring to the Mar-a-Lago meeting. So I would interpret Trevithick's detailed article as a declaration that the list of weapons involved in the sale does not contain any significant advanced armory rather they are upgrades of old systems. Even though Trump may be anxious to do sales for America, but Taiwan's $1.3B deal is peanuts compared to Saudi Arabia's $110B arms deal with the U.S. I doubt that Trump would jeopardize US-China relation for a $1.4B deal. However, $1.4B does mean $60 per person for Taiwan's 23m people. Why should the people in Taiwan spend their hard earnings to pay for used or obsolete military equipment to rival with ever-stronger Mainland? Why not accept the "One China Two Systems" solution for a peaceful and prosperous future? Hong Kong and Macau are proven examples; they do not have to spend any money on defense to enjoy a prosperous economy. Why should Taiwan be different?!