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Ankur asked: What are objectives US want to achieve by selling arms to Taiwan on a regular basis?

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  • Cherian Samuel replies: US Relations with Taiwan are governed by the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), passed by the US Congress in 1979. Inter alia, the Act requires the United States "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character" and "to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan." China has resolutely objected to these arms sales, pointing out that they go against the grain of the Joint Communique of 1982 between the PRC and the US in which the United States reiterated that it “does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, and it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.” That notwithstanding, both domestic and international compulsions, including increasing Chinese military power commensurate with its growing economic might, have led the US to increase arms sales to Taiwan. It sold $6 billion worth in 2008, followed by the recently announced sale of a further $6 billion worth of arms this year. The US maintains that these sales are carefully calibrated, keeping the provisions of the TRA in mind, pointing out that it has again deferred a long-pending request by Taiwan for F-16 aircraft which would be a force-multiplier. The most important message that the US wishes to convey through these arms sales is that the US stands by those dependent on its security umbrella in the region.