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11/19/2004

Richard Lawless & Taiwan

Richard Lawless is a candidate for chief of clandestine services. He is former CIA, and has significant business ties with Jeb.

A sample of his work: Arms Control Today 11/04:

n April 2001, President George W. Bush offered to sell Taiwan four Kidd-class guided missile destroyers, eight diesel-powered submarines (even though the United States has not built a conventional submarine since 1959), and 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft. (See ACT, May 2001.) Since then, the administration also has prodded Taiwan to acquire Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interceptors to protect itself against China’s ever-growing number of short-range ballistic missiles aimed across the 160-kilometer-wide strait. The Pentagon estimated this summer that 500 Chinese missiles sit opposite Taiwan.

The high cost of the U.S. arms, differences over the proper mix of weapons to buy, problems finding an appropriate submarine design and builder, and concerns about upsetting China have all combined to delay a final decision by Taipei. After narrowly winning re-election as president in March, Chen revived the push for the arms package.

China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province that should be under the mainland’s control, has vehemently objected to the pending U.S. deal. Although generally opposed to any foreign arms sales to Taiwan, Beijing is particularly agitated about the prospect of Taiwan importing advanced weapons with Chen at the helm because he has been a long-time proponent of Taiwanese independence.

Making matters worse from Beijing’s perspective is the perceived meddling of some U.S. officials, such as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless, exhorting Taiwan to stop its dallying and buy U.S. arms. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kong Quan said Oct. 11 that such comments cause China “strong indignation.”

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan rankle Beijing so much that over the past two years it has reportedly floated a vague tradeoff involving a freeze or withdrawal of Chinese missile deployments targeting Taiwan for Washington turning off its arms pipeline to Taipei. Neither Taiwan nor the United States showed interest.
BBC 10/27/04:
For starters, there is no guarantee that after the US presidential election, Washington will honour the existing arms package on offer.

And some US officials appear to be losing patience with Taiwan.

US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Richard Lawless, said this month that the island would be viewed as a liability rather than a partner if lawmakers did not approve the arms package.

Taiwan's Foreign Minister, Mark Chen, is also concerned about the impact on ties with the US if the arms budget is not passed.

"The basic message that could be interpreted by our American friends is that we are not really willing to defend Taiwan by ourselves," he said.

"Our mutual interactions may be discounted in some way; and that's something I don't want to see that happen. "

 

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