Free «US Arms Sale to Taiwan» Essay Sample

In the last few months, China has voted as a strong opposition against the US arms’ deals with Taiwan. China is upset with the US selling arms to Taiwan; and it has tried to convince the U.S. to stop selling arms to Taiwan. In September 2011, the Chinese foreign minister told Hilary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of the State, that Obama’s government should reassess a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan (“CNN Wire Staff”, 2011). Clinton responded to this by stating clearly that the US would not reconsider the arms deal because it has a strategic interest in Taiwan’s stability; and the Taiwan Relations’ Act offered a solid basis for providing self-protective weapons as well as capabilities to Taiwan to maintain that stability.

China believes that the US arms’ deals with Taiwan would harm the confidence as well as the trust between it and the US. The Taiwan arms’ deal has become a sensitive and important issue for the basis of China-US relations. China has even made some threats against the US so that they can force the US to stop its arms deals with Taiwan. In September 2011, the Chinese officials told the US that they would cancel, postpone, or suspend a number of the military-to-military involvement with it. Chinese strategists believe that the U.S. strategic intention behind its Taiwan policy is to separate Taiwan from China to prevent China becoming a strong rival to the US (Sheng, 2001). This shows that the manner the US handles the Taiwan arms’ deal matters has a direct influence on its relations with China.


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To avoid the conflict between China and Taiwan, the U.S. has to be deeply involved in China -Taiwan matter. Both China and Taiwan regularly push the US to take the position in the dispute; and the US efforts to assist Taiwan have caused a strained relationship between the US and China. 


Taiwan was a remnant of the administration that governed the mainland of China until 1949 when it won a communist uprising. Taiwan separates the mainland from the island. The U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations’ Act in1979, and it was set to offer to Taiwan the “security guarantee” through the US domestic legislations (Sheng, 2001). China argues that the Act encroaches upon its sovereignty and interferes with its internal affairs. Since the very beginning, China has struggled resolutely against the US invasion of Taiwan because it claims that the US has been attempting to separate Taiwan from the Chinese Territory contrary to the “One China Framework.” In the “One China Framework,” the US agreed that the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits were the part of one China, and that this meant that Taiwan was not a separate state (Lawrence, 2011). China feels that the US owes its concessions on Taiwan arms’ sales in the recognition of China’s economy and its positive contributions to the important issues of the United States.

On the other hand, the United States government argues that the arms’ sales contribute to the stability by giving Taiwan leaders the confidence to engage with China. Moreover, the U.S. also cites its obligations under the Taiwan Relations’ Act to offer to Taiwan the defense services and articles in the quantity required to facilitate it upholding a satisfactory self-defense capacity (Sheng, 2001). Because of these issues, the arms’ sales with the US and Taiwan remain the greatest contribution to the Chinese mistrust of the United States because they are contrary to the U.S. promise made in 1982. The U.S. had promised that it did not have any intent for pursuing a plan of the “One China,” “One Taiwan,” or “two Chinas”, and that it would not fulfill a lasting policy of selling arms to Taiwan (Lawrence, 2011). The U.S. also affirmed that the arms sold to Taiwan would not go beyond the number of the arms provided because the diplomatic relationships with China and its intention was to cut gradually its arms’ sales to Taiwan, leading to the final resolution eventually.

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The U.S. government did not keep its word and failed to comply with its  promise of the 1982 year. It has continued to violate the promise up-to-date claiming the arms contribute to the stability by giving Taiwan leaders the confidence to engage with China. In 1999, when the US announced its plan to develop the Theatre Missile Defense and the National Missile Defense in Taiwan, the Chinese Foreign Minister argued that it had been a grave infringement of China’s territorial integrity as well as its sovereignty (Lawrence, 2011). China took this act from the U.S. as a serious interference in the internal affairs, and it strongly expressed the firm opposition and strong dissatisfaction. China opposed such moves from the U.S. because this would without doubt threaten the efforts to attain Taiwan’s independence and place the impediments for China’s reunification with Taiwan.

China always pays attention to the remarks and actions of the US about Taiwan, and it usually cooperates with it hoping that the U.S. administration will respect its endeavors by regarding China and Taiwan as one China. However, the U.S. government has failed repeatedly to honor the commitment, and this has evoked resistance from China. The U.S. efforts to assist Taiwan became a self-governing state that has brought forth disagreements with China.

In October 1997, when the President Jiang Zemin visited the U.S., the two countries gave a shared proclamation in which the U.S. restated that it respected the “one China” policy as well as the codes that the two countries have established in the Joint Communiqué (Lawrence, 2011). Since 1982, the presidents and high-ranking officials have reaffirmed repeatedly that the U.S. does not support the promotion of “one China”, “one Taiwan”, or “two Chinas.” They have also claimed that the U.S. did not advocate for Taiwan to become a member of the United Nations (UN).

China perceives any action taken by the U.S. to support Taiwan such as the arms’ deals as a threat to China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and its peaceful reunification as well as national sentiments of all Chinese people (Lawrence, 2011). China sees as if the U.S. is deliberately trying to divide China’s territory and sovereignty so that Taiwan and China become the two separate states. China also demands solemnly that the U.S. restrains from any means to support the entry of Taiwan into such international organizations as the UN and the World Health Organization (WHO) the affiliates of which are the self-governing states. This account shows that the manner the U.S. handles Taiwan arms deals has a direct influence on its relations with China. Apart from the threat of the U.S. on the unification of China and Taiwan, there are also other trends, which are increasingly eroding the stability of the status quo and challenging the viability of the “one China” framework (Lawrence, 2011). The United States’ efforts to support Taiwan have led to a growing sense of the separate identity and efforts by leaders to highlight Taiwan’s separate status. They have raised the concerns in China about a creeping independence. The Chinese leaders regard Taiwan independence as a threat to China’s territorial integrity and continued rule of the Chinese leadership. Most intellectuals concur that if Taiwan officially declared its independence, it would generate a real war between it and China regardless of whether the U.S. intervened or not (He & Feng, 2009).

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China has difficulty coming up with the effective responses to the gradual moves towards its independence, and this has led the leaders to seek reinforcing the credibility of threats to use force. China has also accelerated its military modernization efforts with an increased focus on weapons that could deter or delay the US military intervention in case a conflict occurs (Lawrence, 2001). All these events are taking place against a backdrop of the increasing interdependence across the Taiwan Strait and increasing influence of domestic politics in Beijing, Taipei, and Washington on cross-strait relations.

It is evident that the United States have to be more deeply involved in the matter of China -Taiwan. Both China and Taiwan regularly push the U.S. back to their position in the dispute. For Taiwan, this involves an attempt to obtain symbolic gestures of the U.S. support for Taiwan participation in the World Health Organization or a permission to make transit visits through the United States. The democratization has offered Taiwan’s appeal to supporting more legitimacy, allowing a push for the greater U.S. recognition of Taiwan elected leaders. In February 2000, the President Clinton said that any resolution of Taiwan’s status should be peaceful and acceptable to Taiwan people (Lawrence, 2011). In April 2001, the President Bush stated that the U.S. would do anything to assist Taiwan in defending itself. Although these statements by Clinton and Bush had been the successes, Taiwan leaders have not managed to win the U.S. endorsement that Taiwan was already an independent sovereign state. At the same time, China regularly pushes the U.S. to reaffirm its “One China” policy and to make the statements opposing Taiwan’s independence. China has attempted to use the previous U.S. cooperation and commitment in other areas to limit the U.S. political and security ties with Taiwan.

Classical Theories in the IR

The classical theories in the International Relationship would view the events as normal ones because they purport that the international society is anarchically dominating individual states striving to maximize their own power and security (Beate, 2006). The three states are predisposed towards the conflict and competition. Their international cooperation might prove to be elusive, even when the potential benefits of such arrangements are universally recognized (Beate, 2006). The degree of the international cooperation between the three states is directly proportional to the degree to which one actor dominates in the international politics. The possession with the military strength is relevant in this case; an actor may issue some threats and cajole another actor into changing the activities that contribute to a climatic change, for instance, China’s threat to the U.S. The three states are striving to attain as many resources as possible in pursuit of the national security, and they are moving towards their own national interests (Beate, 2006). The relations between the three states are determined by power levels. It is also evident that sovereign states are the main actors in the international system; and the special attention is given to the larger power because it has the bigger influence on the international stage.

The “One China” framework has served the United States’ interests effectively for 30 years. However, it is drawing the USA more deeply into the dispute to preserve the status quo in front of the potentially destabilizing trends. The stability requires the United States, China, and Taiwan to make some practical compromises and tolerate the continued ambiguity of Taiwan’s status. 

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