The most recent authored analysis appears first. In a few cases, the editors chose the titles. These articles are in addition to CRS Reports and other writings for Congress.
“Momentum in the US-Taiwan Security Partnership,” GTB, 19 June 2019. Marking the 40th anniversary of the TRA’s enactment and third anniversary in office of President Tsai Ing-wen, Taipei and Washington have momentum in their stronger security partnership. Developments include the bipartisan Taiwan Assurance Act in Congress, Tsai’s substantive stopover in Honolulu, high-level talks on national security, regular arms sales, the Defense Department’s signaling of support for Taiwan’s security, and Senate’s confirmation of David Stilwell as an assistant secretary of state, whom Taiwan welcomes. What more needs to be done? What do the incremental improvements mean? What do they not mean?
“Taiwan’s Defense and Prospects for US-Taiwan Security Cooperation,” GTB, 3 October 2018. President Tsai’s decisive leadership is needed to resolve Taiwan’s debate on the Overall Defense Concept (ODC), particularly given the Trump Administration’s support for the ODC and stronger US support for Taiwan’s defense. The prospects for security cooperation are promising, but the risks are great if Taiwan will fail to reach results and waste this opportunity to strengthen defense.
“Midterm Assessment of the Tsai Administration: 10 Ways to Strengthen Overall Defense,” Global Taiwan Brief, 27 June 2018. Half way through Tsai’s term, Taiwan is making progress to strengthen deterrence and defense against China’s increasing threats. With the current opportunity offered by US support of the Trump Administration and Congress, Taiwan could coherently conceptualize its defense and will sustain progress for its strong overall defense with a new concept.
“Congressional Support for Taiwan’s Defense Through the National Defense Authorization Act,” online roundtable, NBR, 7 May 2018. An early version of the NDAA for FY2018 provoked strong opposition from the PRC for proposing that the U.S. Navy should conduct port calls to Taiwan. While naval port calls generated particular controversy, the consequential part of the latest NDAA is the requirement that the Defense Secretary shall report to Congress in order to normalize the arms sales process for Taiwan.
“What Next After the Taiwan Travel Act?”, Taiwan Insight, University of Nottingham, UK, 19 April 2018. The Act does not use mandatory language. Nonetheless, the Act is an important political and bipartisan statement about policy from both the Congress and the President. There was an interesting omission. On March 16, 2018, the President signed the legislation into law without any qualifying condition.
“Saga of Submarines: Licenses in the Newest Episode,” Global Taiwan Brief, 18 April 2018. The Administration’s approval of marketing licenses for US companies to discuss potential technical assistance for Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program was overdue and not timed to be provocative. As I wrote in last December’s GTB on a conceivable “second Trump-Tsai phone call,” the State Department conveyed conflicting decisions concerning assistance for Taiwan’s IDS program thereby undermining US credibility with incoherent messages. Now that the White House has resolved the reversals for the licenses and has allowed defense companies to brief Taiwan’s Navy, what are some implications in this newest episode in the saga of submarines since at least 2001?
“Recommendations of Options to Strengthen the U.S.-Taiwan Partnership,” Statement For the Record of the Hearing on Reinforcing the U.S.-Taiwan Relationship, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, 17 April 2018. An example of options to strengthen US-Taiwan cooperation and communication to dispel misperceptions include: Congress could authorize the Defense Department to decide (without the State Department’s required, written approval) whether to allow visits to Taiwan by general/flag officers (military personnel above the rank of O-6) and Assistant Secretaries of Defense or other senior officials (above the level of office director), regardless of the Guidelines on Relations with Taiwan.
“Taiwan Needs to Urgently Upgrade Deterrence and Defense,” Global Taiwan Brief, 13 December 2017. The United States and Taiwan could agree about Taiwan’s Air Force, including its decisions on outdated F-5 fighters, expensive Mirage fighters, and trainers. One option is to add to the US upgrade of Taiwan’s existing F-16A/B fighters to F-16V fighters by deciding on a program of new F-16V (Block 70/72) fighters.
“Crux of Ching Fu’s Case Concerns China,” Global Taiwan Brief, 29 November 2017. Since October 2017, Taiwan has seen a media frenzy over a scandal involving domestic Ching Fu Shipbuilding Company, which won a defense contract in 2014 to build minesweepers for Taiwan’s Navy. This case has raised numerous concerns that involve: US and European security interests (including Lockheed Martin); President Tsai Ing-wen’s policy of “self-sufficient national defense;” Taiwan’s military and its arms procurement; predictable partisan finger-pointing between politicians; defaulted loans from local banks; and blame laid on bankers and senior officers in Taiwan’s armed forces. On November 22, President Tsai even personally publicized her statement specifically on this criminal case. However, what seems lost is that the crux of this case concerns Ching Fu’s suspected compromises in the PRC.
“A Transit That Is More Like a Visit,” Taipei Times, 27 October 2017. The US is to welcome President Tsai during her “transit” in Honolulu. This stop-over is part of an evolution to visit-like “transits,” involving significant security and other advance preparations, as well as public activities and overnight stays. The PRC’s military threat to Taiwan has been growing since the EARLY 1990s. PRC rulers had decided by 1993 on a new Main Strategic Direction to build military capabilities to target Taiwan. In 1994, the PLA conducted a command post exercise that used the scenario of an invasion of Taiwan.
“New Framework for U.S.-Taiwan Cooperation: More Equal Partnership,” paper presented at the conference hosted by Taiwan Thinktank and GTI, Taipei, 18 August 2017. Now is a pivotal moment, with the Trump Administration, to realize the potential of a more equal and sustainable U.S.-Taiwan partnership. However, the U.S. side worries that Taiwan’s defense budget has fallen no matter which party was in power and warns that Taiwan’s shift away from military conscription was a mistake.
“Overdue Arms Sales to Taiwan: End of ‘Packages?’,” Global Taiwan Brief, 5 July 2017. In notifying Congress of overdue arms sales to Taiwan, the Trump Administration closed the gap between rhetoric and action in adherence to the TRA. Potential next steps include ending the distorted practice of “packages.” A credible process would restore full consultation with Congress, not just two days of informal review before the latest formal notifications on June 29.
“China Should Stop Deflecting on North Korea,” The Diplomat, 13 May 2017. China must square up to its responsibility in the crisis. The Trump Administration is leading overdue, intense international pressure to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs by placing the threats as the top priority in dealing with its patron, Beijing. However, the PRC has not changed policy fundamentally and still deflects direct responsibility to stop the DPRK. China’s historical revisionism is not convincing. As Senator John McCain pointed out: “China has aided and abetted North Korea for decades.”
“China is Flunking Its Most Important Geopolitical Test,” The National Interest, 11 May 2017. The PRC has unique, overwhelming leverage against the DPRK. Beijing should use its well-honed “salami-slicing” tactics of incremental pressure to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear programs. China cannot keep dangling the bait of “cooperation” on North Korea’s threats and expect the world to bite.
“Is Taiwan Missing Opportunities for Serious Defense?,” Global Taiwan Brief, 3 May 2017. Reuters caused controversy with a heading of “F-35 Request.” Taiwan needs to convey positive signals about urgency in self-defense and shared security. President Tsai could show leadership on Taiwan’s defense against the PRC’s real and rising threat, especially the people’s will to fight and support for defending their homeland. Taiwan needs to make smart choices given limited time and budgets, a military that deserves more of the people’s support, and requirements to replace the military’s outdated equipment with weapons systems that are affordable, survivable, and lethal at this urgent time (and not way into the future).
“The TRA at 38: What Would Reagan Do?” Global Taiwan Brief, 26 April 2017. Under Trump, the White House finally has made North Korea’s threat the top priority in U.S. dealings with China. However, Trump’s words suggest rewarding China for working on the North Korean threat, which is like paying an arsonist’s accomplice to sprinkle water on his fires. Reagan did not accept the premise that engagement with Taiwan and the PRC was a zero-sum game. Recognizing that the State Department’s failure to cite the TRA sent the wrong signal, NSC official Matt Pottinger clarified before the Trump-Xi summit that Trump reaffirmed our “one China” policy as consistent with the Joint Communiqués and the TRA.
“China’s Military Provocations Against Taiwan Are Not Mere Responses to Trump,” National Interest, 12 January 2017. The PLA appears to be operationalizing this action in the air and can be expected to follow with provocations at sea. Indeed, on January 11, China sailed its Liaoning aircraft carrier north from the South China Sea through the Taiwan Strait.
“China’s Military Provocations Against Taiwan Are Not Mere Responses to Trump,” AsiaEye (blog), Project 2049 Institute, 10 January 2017. China’s provocations of Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the U.S., and others should not be seen as new, surprising, or as responses, but rather as part of its militarization of aggressive claims in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. The PLA appears to be operationalizing this action in the air and can be expected to follow with provocations at sea.
“Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995-1996: Lessons Learned for Policy,” Global Taiwan Brief, GTI, 4 January 2017. The new Trump Administration has an opportunity to improve interactions with Taiwan, rather than responding belatedly in case of another crisis (like in 1995-1996) to adjust the approach to policy in order to maintain stability.
“Beijing’s Sinister Long-term Goals,” Taipei Times, 22 December 2016 (21 December, in the U.S.). China’s provocations against Taiwan are not mere responses to Trump. Before this eventful December, this author heard a warning in the summer that China contemplated options to pressure Taiwan. Such options include military pressure around Taiwan up to its 12-nm territorial sea or airspace. The PLA appears to be operationalizing this action in the air and can be expected to follow with provocations at sea.
“Options for Reviewing Taiwan Policy,” Global Taiwan Brief, Global Taiwan Institute (GTI), 26 October 2016. The United States has many options to improve the robust relationship with Taiwan, but the priority should be to implement a more certain, credible arms sales process.
“Countering China’s Psychological Warfare,” The Diplomat, 26 September 2016. An American narrative is needed to disarm China’s victimization rhetoric.
“Is Taiwan Investing Enough In Its Security?”, Taipei Times, 14 September 2016. President Tsai Ing-wen’s strategic challenge is to reverse the decline in Taiwan’s defense and urgently strengthen security in the interest of stability. U.S. policy also needs an urgent fix, given the hold on arms sales to Taiwan under the Bush and Obama Administrations.
“Obama Should Invite Tsai to Visit,” Taipei Times, 20 April 2016. One month before the inauguration of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen, the Obama Administration should welcome her to visit Washington.
“Rescind China’s Invitation to Join RIMPAC,” PacNet #35, Pacific Forum CSIS, 15 April 2016. The Obama Administration should rescind the conditional invitation for the PLA to join RIMPAC 2016.
“Reconciling Cross-Strait Contrivance,” Taipei Times, 22 October 2015. This essay explains the so-called “1992 consensus,” how to reconcile the dispute over it, and the U.S. position on this vague, verbal code for discord.
“Obama’s Policy on Arms Sales to Taiwan Needs Credibility and Clarity,” PacNet #39, Pacific Forum CSIS, 7 July 2015. To dispel dangerous perceptions that the Administration is at odds with US principles, policies, and laws, President Obama should now submit the pending notification(s) to Congress for major arms sales to Taiwan.
“The Taiwan Relations Act and Reagan’s Six Assurances,” Taipei Times, 22 June 2007. US policy has considered Taiwan’s status as not yet determined. US policy leaves these questions to be resolved by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait: peacefully, with the assent of Taiwan’s people, and without unilateral changes.
“Frog in the Well and Chicken Little,” PacNet #9A, Pacific Forum CSIS, 28 February 2007. Taiwan is like a frog in a well. It is isolated diplomatically by China, but it also needs to avoid isolating itself from the real world, economically, politically, and militarily.
“Time for Broader Talks with the U.S.,” Taipei Times, 10 February 2006. Rather than arguing over “communication,” the two sides could engage in a broader dialogue on common interests, speak with greater clarity (such as on arms sales), meet at higher levels (possibly with the first Cabinet-level visit under President George W. Bush), strengthen ties between lawmakers, and promote collaboration between businesses (through the American Chamber of Commerce and US-Taiwan Business Council).
“China and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Implications for the United States,” National Intelligence Council (NIC), 5 November 1999. Despite the efforts of successive administrations (since at least the Reagan Administration), an important gap remains between US and PRC perceptions about weapon proliferation.
“Clinton’s China Syndrome,” Far Eastern Economic Review, 1 July 1993. President Clinton has made extension of China’s most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status in 1994 contingent on human rights but not on weapons non-proliferation and fair trade.