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No AEGIS to Taiwan

By dcodea in News
Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 04:04:15 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

Bush announces there will be no sale of advanced AEGIS destroyers to Taiwan; Republicans in Congress support the decision, while Democrats and conservatives outside of Washington describe it as "opening a window of vulnerability."

Senior officials did the actual announcing (read more here and here).

AEGIS destroyers are the best destroyers we make; equipped with advanced radar and battle management systems, Taiwan views them as essential to defending against air threats from China. China, of course, is deeply opposed to their sale. Today Taiwan is getting most of the things on its wishlist, but not the AEGIS.

This is being described as everything from a cave-in to Chinese demands to a powerful indication of support for Taiwan. The proposed package includes Kidd-class destroyers, diesel submarines, new missiles for fighters, a technical briefing on the latest Patriot system, and other assorted weapons.

While officials have stated "There was no link to the EP-3E incident," US-China relations have obvious reached something of a crossroads. What should the future of our relations with China and Taiwan be? As China becomes more important on the world stage, and forces in the US seek more and more engagement with China, our traditional support of Taiwan will be harder to maintain. Since China shows no signs of wavering in its hostility towards Taiwan, what is to be done?

Assorted links on the issue:

About the Taiwan Relations Act
A Taiwanese Political Science Professor's site, collecting lots of Information
An analysis of US interests in Taiwan
A highly technical legal analysis of China's relationship with Taiwan
Taiwan ROC homepage
The Economist's survey of Taiwan
China's embassy in the US


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


What Should US policy on Taiwan Be?
o Unconditional support, right up to an invasion 47%
o Try to have it both ways: support Taiwan and strengthen ties to China 34%
o Phase out support to strengthen relationship with China 18%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o announces
o announcing
o here
o here [2]
o About the Taiwan Relations Act
o A Taiwanese Political Science Professor's site, collecting lots of Information
o A highly technical legal analysis of China's relationship with Taiwan
o Taiwan ROC homepage
o The Economist's survey of Taiwan
o China's embassy in the US
o Also by dcodea

Display: Sort:
No AEGIS to Taiwan | 30 comments (21 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
My view (4.33 / 6) (#1)
by dcodea on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:31:52 AM EST

I tried to keep the story itself view-neutral. I personally believe that our continued support of Taiwan is very important. Taiwan has been one the most successful democracies of East Asia, and is a valuable ally in the area. Considering China's continued Human rights abuses and other problem's, I don't think there is a pressing need to open the floodgates quite yet. My view is to continue support of Taiwan and find ways to prod China into becoming a more responsible nation. Shades of infringed sovereignty, I know, but the way I see it is if China wants more engagement with us, there are strings attached.

Who Dares Wins

still pretty supportive (3.66 / 3) (#3)
by Delirium on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:39:22 AM EST

I don't think this decision was as pro-China or anti-Taiwan as you seem to think. While the decision was made to not sell any AEGIS system ships to Taiwan, a Taiwanese official even publically said that Taiwan could live without the AEGIS system. This seems to be mostly a token concession to China to avoid completely antagonizing them. The majority of the weapons deal, including some parts that China strenuously objected to - particularly eight quiet-running diesel submarines - will still go through.

--AIM: Delirium4u. Or read my diary.

[ Parent ]

Yes (3.33 / 3) (#4)
by dcodea on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 06:46:44 AM EST

I did notice as I read more background on the story that it isn't strictly anti-Taiwan. It does raise the issue of Support for Taiwan, and as I recall hearing about the AEGIS over the past year or so(this deal has been in the works quite a while) is was being described as much more essential. At least, to the best of my recollection, Clinton was in favor of it.

Who Dares Wins
[ Parent ]

Support the ROC? (none / 0) (#26)
by exotherm on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:10:15 PM EST

I seem to recall that the Republic of China was formed some time around 1910? Apparently, they're the same ROC that's currently in Taiwan. My question is exactly what kind of support did our government (US) lend them when the rest of Europe and Japan was occupying them? Oh, right, we were also occupying them and propping up the dictatorship of Generalisimo Chiang Kai Shek 'cuz he willingly bent over for us. I seem to also recall hearing about the Open Door Policy, something the PRC might still be holding a grudge against.
Those who can are driven mad by those who can't.
[ Parent ]
why Taiwan didn't get AEGIS (4.16 / 6) (#9)
by cory on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:29:38 AM EST

My understanding of why Taiwan didn't get the AEGIS destroyers is that it really has nothing to do with the EP-3E incident. Rather, even if the go ahead had been given to sell the ships to Taiwan, they wouldn't've been online until the end of the decade, while the Kidds will be ready in only a few years. And I know from personal experience in the US Navy that the AEGIS system is *not* a simple, intuitive, or easy to use system. The cost in both time and money to train Taiwanese sailors on the systems would've delayed their deployment by another year or two at least (there's only so much training you can do on a simulator).

Also, keep in mind that US technology is so far ahead of just about anyone else when it comes to war that our equipment from the 70's (like the Kidds) is still years ahead of most of what's out there.


Same here (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by khallow on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 12:06:13 PM EST

I heard pretty much the same thing. Namely, that Taiwan can't support an AEGIS destroyer at this time.

Another topic that bothers me here is just how well Taiwan would fare in any sort of engagement with China. Even with the US supporting Taiwan, one could see Taiwan getting overwhelmed. OTOH, the "fruit" might be just out of reach for the Chinese military.

Finally, China has a much better approach through the economic embrace of Taiwan. I can see that paying off in ten or twenty years.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Oh, really? (none / 0) (#29)
by decaf_dude on Sun May 06, 2001 at 06:48:55 AM EST

Also, keep in mind that US technology is so far ahead of just about anyone else when it comes to war that our equipment from the 70's (like the Kidds) is still years ahead of most of what's out there.

Care to compare, say, Patriot missile system with Russian S-300 (NATO designation: SA-10 'Grumble')? You do, of course, realise that the only deployed fighter jet in the world that can perform the "Cobra" maneuver is Russian Su-27 'Flanker', and the only deployed fighter jet with maximum altitude of well over 100,000 feet (useful for shooting down the satellites or avoiding radar, SAMs, and air-launched missiles) is Russian MiG-25 'Foxbat' (which is also the world's fastest interceptor, screaming in combat at close to Mach 3), and that the world's most advanced combat helicopter is Russian Ka-52 'Alligator'. I do believe, though, that the honour for the world's most expensive military aircraft goes to American B-2, priced at over $1.3Bn. You can check all these facts in Guiness World Record 2000 Book.

If I could laugh at someone's ignorance, I'd be ROTFLMAO!


[ Parent ]
Addendum to my previous post (none / 0) (#30)
by decaf_dude on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:01:43 AM EST

We may have won the Cold War through sheer power of our economic model, but have no doubt: we would have lost a real one (nuclear weapons notwithstanding, since noone would win a nuclear war - we'd all evaporate before it was over). Their conventional weaponry is/was so far ahead of ours that it was no longer funny. Hence, shut up and be happy that Russia is crumbling (no offense to our Russian friends) and that their military is in disarray (they're currently getting their butt kicked by a gang of poorly-armed mountain men in Chechnya), for should they have decided to attack the West at their peak (in the 70's or 80's), there'd be a picture of Lenin on your wall, my friend :)


[ Parent ]
I don't much like your poll. (3.66 / 3) (#11)
by trhurler on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:17:41 AM EST

I want to see us provide for Taiwan, but I don't want to see us in a land war in Asia. :) Basically, I think we ought to do what it takes to make damned sure that Taiwan is too costly to bother taking, and let the Chinese do what they will. If they want a war with the US as a result, as long as we don't actually invade them, we can beat them up from a distance until they either give up or lose their whole navy and are forced to stop. If they want to trade, we can trade. If they want to stagnate and impoverish themselves over a political cause, so be it.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

I don't much like the poll either (none / 0) (#20)
by Robert Hutchinson on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:11:00 PM EST

I want to stay out of it, but not to "strengthen" our "relationship with China." I want to stay out of it because I don't appreciate having my money stolen so a pack of Cold War nostalgics can keep playing their own personal game of Risk. No one bothered to ask me whether Taiwan is an ally.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

[ Parent ]

The glossed-over story (4.50 / 6) (#13)
by FlightTest on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:56:36 AM EST

I personally think what's important here isn't the Aegis vs Kidd class destroyers. I think it's the diesel subs. Or, more correctly, the diesel-electric subs. Note that the loud noises are over the destroyers, and oh, by the way, we're also selling them diesel subs, some missles, and some other stuff.

Advanced diesel-electric subs *can* be significantly quieter than nuclear subs when submerged (read: running on batteries). Why? Nuclear subs have pumps that run continuously, there's no way around it. Diesel-electrics can run VERY quietly. China "acquired" advanced screw technology a few years ago. Thier subs are pretty quiet. Depending on the technology we're selling to Taiwan, we could be advancing Taiwan's sub fleet beyond what China has.

Additionaly, the "quietness" of the sub is built into the technology. It requires no (or little) special training outside of normal sub duty training. As someone else pointed out, the Aegis destroyers would require a lot of extensive training. Training is a big issue in the Taiwan navy. It is my understanding that positions are often awarded based on family name (social status), not necessarily ability. This is not just a rumor I heard. I have a very good friend who spent a year in Taiwan working directly with their navy.

Why did I flip? I got tired of coming up with last minute desparate solutions to impossible problems created by other fucking people.

Submarines; Kidds vs. Aegis (none / 0) (#24)
by Alarmist on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:22:42 PM EST

I personally think what's important here isn't the Aegis vs Kidd class destroyers. I think it's the diesel subs. Or, more correctly, the diesel-electric subs. Note that the loud noises are over the destroyers, and oh, by the way, we're also selling them diesel subs, some missles, and some other stuff.

Technically, we're not selling them the subs. We're going to use our influence (if we have any) to convince someone who still makes diesel-electric boats to sell them to Taiwan. I think Germany is who we're going to be asking.

A little cursory research shows that the Kidd-class destroyers are more general-purpose ships than the Aegis destroyers. The Aegis ships are mainly designed to provide air defense for carrier and other battle groups--their primary weapons system is a battery of missiles for use against aircraft or incoming missiles.

The Kidd-class ships, on the other hand, are built more for anti-ship and anti-sub operations. What I find interesting is that all of the gear we're trying to get for Taiwan is pretty good for killing submarines.

Anybody know offhand how big or well-equipped the Chinese submarine fleet is?

[ Parent ]

A few thoughts (3.66 / 3) (#17)
by _Quinn on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 02:23:30 PM EST

   What I read -- possibly out of date, now -- was that the president had postponed the decision on allowing the sale of AEGIS systems, rather than definitely allowing them. I read this as a smarter move than a flat-out refusal: a stick with which to threaten the Chinese.

   The diesel-electric subs are very important; possibly more important than the AEGIS system; it depends on the Chinese force disposition. Will they have enough airborne threats to swamp a non-AEGIS air defense system? an AEGIS system? Their navy isn't worth much right now, but how much better is it getting? Is it more important to protect the surface navy, or to destroy the Chinese navy? (or landing vehicles?) [Agreeing, mostly, with FlightTest.]

   I agree with trhurler, as for our goals. Fighting a land war with China is definitely on the Let's Not Go There list. I also think it's in our national interest for Taiwan to remain, if not de jure, de facto independent; and responding to aggression is a classical American reason for military intervention. An aerial and naval defense of Taiwan makes sense to me; ground forces, less so, especially because it would take so long to get a substantial enough amount of troops there...

Reality Maintenance Group, Silver City Construction Co., Ltd.
What Taiwan wants, Taiwan gets (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by weirdling on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 02:57:35 PM EST

That's my position. However, giving them Kidds is a pretty impressive statement. The Kidd isn't a slouch; the Aegis is superior, but the Kidd is a *lot* cheaper, and plenty superior to the Chinese navy. I personally think that if they think they can handle the Aegis, we ought to sell them the Aegis, but older missile frigates which the US Navy is actively retiring would be more useful in Taiwan's force mixture. Taiwan is facing just about the largest airforce in the world, but Aegis cruisers won't be a huge benefit unless in sufficient numbers to ensure enough air coverage which a carrier would provide. However, a missile frigate, all by itself, can provide an enormous force multiplier due to its ability to launch a *lot* of missiles at once and its targeting and defensive systems. They're too slow for our Navy, but Taiwan doesn't have to go anywhere in a hurry...
However, we should sell them as many patriots, stingers, sidewinders, mavericks, whatever other munitions they want, and try to convince them to move to the F-20 and F-22 rather than the F-16 to increase their airforce force multiplier. And, a few older Los Angeles-class boomers wouldn't hurt, but I know no one is in support of giving them strategic capability...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
boomers? you mean attack sub (2.50 / 2) (#19)
by cory on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 04:55:09 PM EST

Los Angeles subs are attack subs. Ohios are ballistic missiles subs, commonly called "boomers". And there's no way we should be giving Taiwan nuclear ballistic missile submarines. It's one thing to help Taiwan defend themselves, it's another to help them prepare for their own invasion (or at least reach out and touch someone).


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I meant Ohio (none / 0) (#21)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:09:43 AM EST

Boomers are the ultimate in deterrance. It would be relatively easy for Taiwan to hide two or three boomers, making for a potentially disastrous situation for China, should they try to invade. It'd be cheaper in the long run, and there really isn't any problem with giving Taiwan nuclear weapons now that China has them. Besides, a country as industrious as Taiwan probably already has nuclear weapons of some sort. Anyone know for sure?

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Nukes for ROC??? (none / 0) (#23)
by DaBunny on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:52:18 AM EST

I really don't think making PRC v ROC a nuclear standoff enhances anyone's security. And I seriously doubt that Taiwan has nuclear weapons. Could they? Sure. But it'd take significant resources.

In any event, how do you think the PRC would respond if they knew Taiwan was getting nuclear weapons in the near future. Would they peacefully sit by and allow deployment, or would they move quickly to prevent a deadly threat to their country. Do you want to take the risk? I don't, and more importantly, I doubt the Taiwanese government does either.

[ Parent ]
So, park the Nimitz, the Kennedy, and the Stennis (none / 0) (#25)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:10:13 PM EST

With three fleet carriers and supporting craft as well as our boomers operating in the area, I'm certain China would leave Taiwan alone while they deploy.
I guess I'm a bit partial to Taiwan and don't really mind risking a war with China; I doubt they'll risk it, anyway. However, Taiwan is a 'little brother' that pays their own way for the most part. After all, they are going to *buy* a bunch of Kidds, and Taiwan is also strategically located as a buffer to Chinese expansion.
It would just be a heck of a lot cheaper to defend them with boomers, as a practical matter. I doubt China would risk a launch of nuclear weapons, as it would almost certainly trigger retaliations from the US in some form and likely cause them to face heavy sanctions in trade from the rest of the world; in other words, death to their fragile economic recovery. However, since China has nuclear weapons, I see no reason not to give them to the ROC, and I am certain they will behave responsibly with them. I'm also pretty certain they have some already. They're not expensive, and if India can build one, Taiwan certainly can. It doesn't take a multi-stage fusion/fission bomb to scare someone; just a small, 25kton device will suffice for deterrence, and those can be made without any particularly good equipment so long as enough refined ore is available, and the Soviets are missing an awful lot of that stuff...
On the other hand, although officially, the US isn't supposed to supply Israel with nuclear weapons, they almost certainly have, and the US is just as committed to the defense of Taiwan as they are to Israel. However, Israel doesn't have the world's largest army and airforce staring it in the face. A sub force would act as a far superior deterrance to invasion than surface-launched or aircraft-delivered ordnance, as the Chinese themselves wouldn't be able to find these subs which might be operating anywhere on the globe and still hit China, and China certainly doesn't have the naval resources to track three Ohios...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
FFG versus DDG/CG firepower (none / 0) (#22)
by locke baron on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:07:21 AM EST

While I agree that the Perry-class FFG might be better for them, there is no way that the single missile launcher on one of those can match the amount of air cover that the VLS racks on an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (AEGIS Destroyer, DDG-51) can throw around, and those DDGs have a heavier gun, superior engines, and (IIRC) superior torpedo launching systems, plus they carry Tomahawk and Harpoon capability, allowing them to take out surface ships more easily than the FFG-7 class. (One of those would probably get its butt kicked by a gun frigate, even though they can hunt subs like nobody's business...) However, the Kidd-class (more or less a Spruance on steroids), will be a significant boost to their overall firepower. Those types can bust planes, ships and subs with nearly equal aplomb.
Micro$oft uses Quake clannies to wage war on Iraq! - explodingheadboy
[ Parent ]
An FFG (none / 0) (#27)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:23:58 PM EST

Can't spit as fast as an Aegis, but it does carry greater stores. It can withstand a longer combat, has simpler targeting systems, which, granted, aren't as capable, but for the price, I think Taiwan would be better served. The US Navy doesn't like them because they are slow and special-purpose.
Killing ships isn't something FFGs are particularly good at and they don't target land well, but they do work well in a comprehensive air-defense net, at least better than Kidds.
That being said, the Kidd class is still a good boat and they will get plenty of use out of them.
I think that a simple threat assessment in Taiwan would show the Chinese air force as the number one threat, followed by the Chinese army, as the Formosa strait isn't exactly blue water, so a prolonged ship to ship engagement is unlikely, but keeping their boats afloat in the face of the Chinese air force will require superlative anti-aircraft capability, and long term defensive net, something the FFG does better than anything but an Aegis cruiser or an aircraft carrier. Taiwan also has crewing limitations and FFG have less crewing requirements, iirc, than an Aegis. An Arleigh-Burke class ship doesn't have the extended stores to take on a Chinese-quality air force, although it is questionable whether any Navy can take on a large land-based air force economically, so it may be a moot point.
Anyway, it's all moot because the FFG isn't sexy.
If the force package included submarine escort, torpedo targeting isn't as necessary, and, in a van with the Kidds, I expect that FFG to have a massive force-multiplying effect, which is why we built them in the first place.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
how does $ play into this (none / 0) (#28)
by perdida on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:16:56 PM EST

I am having major brain farts as to why we didnt plug Taiwan into theater missile defense w/AEGIS.

Nevertheless, the Kidds are gonna cost the same $4Bn that the AEGIS would have.

Somebody over in the department of defense is either smoking crack or has undertaken a radical policy shift w/r/t our deployment of missile defense technology.

is this 'cause the tech doesnt work or 'cause of China-bargaining that happened over the airplane?

any ideas?

The most adequate archive on the Internet.
I can't shit a hydrogen fuel cell car. -eeee
No AEGIS to Taiwan | 30 comments (21 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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