Intelligence agency says US arms deal might be postponed

By Joseph Yeh, The China Post

Taiwan’s top intelligence agency said Wednesday that an anticipated U.S. arms deal might see a delay, citing pressure from Beijing in the wake of the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping (習近平) last week.

In a report to lawmakers on the impact of the meeting, Chou Mei-wu (周美伍), deputy head of the National Security Bureau (NSB), warned that Washington may postpone its scheduled arms sales to the country under pressure from Beijing. Mainland Affairs Council Vice Chairman Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), an expert in Taiwan-U.S.-China relations, fielded questions during the same legislative session and said he agreed with the NSB’s prediction. Lin said that based on the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), it was certain that the U.S. would grant arms sales to Taiwan. But the timing of doing so was uncertain, Lin said. Vice Foreign Minister Leo Lee (李澄然) said he was optimistic about the U.S. granting arms sales to Taiwan on the basis of the TRA, which numerous U.S. officials had reaffirmed before Trump’s meeting with Xi. The TRA was enacted in 1979 to authorize the continuation of commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The act also requires the U.S. “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.” Taiwan Issue at Mar-a-Lago The vice foreign minister, commenting on the Trump-Xi meet at the Mar-a-Lago retreat, said Trump and Xi’s discussions had focused on trade issues and North Korea. The Taiwan issue was only briefly touched upon, Lee said.

At Mar-a-Lago, Beijing had called on the U.S. to abide by the “One China” policy, according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In response, the U.S. reiterated its adherence to its “One China” policy and the TRA, Lee told lawmakers yesterday. U.S. officials have already briefed Taiwan on last week’s summit, he said, without disclosing more details about the briefing. He said Taiwan’s interests had not been jeopardized during the just-concluded talks. On the North Korea issue, he said Taiwan did not like to see any action aimed at intimidation or any behavior that undermined regional stability. He said that as a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan was following the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions on North Korea, including the restriction on not importing coal from the country. Before the sanctions were in place, coal had been North Korea’s No. 1 import to Taiwan, with a total shipment value hitting US$4.1 million in 2016.