Official Cites Importance of Stability in Taiwan Strait

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2011 — The Unit­ed States remains com­mit­ted to Tai­wan and to peace and sta­bil­i­ty in the Tai­wan Strait, a Pen­ta­gon offi­cial told the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee today.

“Sta­bil­i­ty in the Tai­wan Strait is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant to the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, and has a strong bear­ing on our endur­ing inter­ests in and com­mit­ments to peace and sta­bil­i­ty in the Asian-Pacif­ic region,” said Peter Lavoy, prin­ci­pal assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for Asian and Pacif­ic secu­ri­ty affairs.

“The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion is firm­ly com­mit­ted to our ‘One Chi­na’ pol­i­cy, which is based on three joint U.S.-China communiqu�and the Tai­wan Rela­tions Act,” he added.

The Tai­wan Rela­tions Act of 1979 has gov­erned pol­i­cy in the absence of a diplo­mat­ic rela­tion­ship or a defense treaty with Tai­wan. Addi­tion­al­ly, key state­ments that guide pol­i­cy are the three U.S.-China Joint Communiqu�of 1972, 1979 and 1982 and the “Six Assur­ances” of 1982.

“This pol­i­cy has endured for over three decades and across eight admin­is­tra­tions,” Lavoy not­ed. “Today, the Unit­ed States has a deep secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ship with Tai­wan, as indi­cat­ed by the administration’s strong record on arms sales.”

Con­gress has approved more than $12 bil­lon in defense aid for Tai­wan in the last two years, Lavoy said. “We will con­tin­ue to make avail­able to Tai­wan defense arti­cles and ser­vices to enable it to main­tain a suf­fi­cient self-defense capa­bil­i­ty,” he told the pan­el.

Lavoy said the administration’s rela­tion­ship with Tai­wan “encom­pass­es much more than arms trans­fers.”

“The Depart­ment of Defense has a respon­si­bil­i­ty to mon­i­tor China’s mil­i­tary devel­op­ments and to deter aggres­sion and con­flict,” he said, not­ing that China’s armed forces have made sig­nif­i­cant advances in tech­nol­o­gy and strate­gic abil­i­ty.

“China’s eco­nom­ic rise has enabled it to trans­form its armed forces from a mass army designed for wars of attri­tion on its own ter­ri­to­ry to one capa­ble of fight­ing short-dura­tion, high-inten­si­ty con­flict along its periph­ery against high-tech adver­saries,” he said.

China’s abil­i­ty to sus­tain mil­i­tary pow­er at a dis­tance remains lim­it­ed, he said, but its armed forces are devel­op­ing and field­ing advanced mil­i­tary tech­nolo­gies to sup­port attacks and anti-access and aer­i­al denial strate­gies. Chi­na also has posi­tioned advanced equip­ment oppo­site Taiwan’s mil­i­tary regions, Lavoy said.

“Bei­jing fields advanced sur­face com­bat­ants and sub­marines to increase its anti-sur­face and anti-war­fare capa­bil­i­ties,” he said. “Sim­i­lar­ly, advanced fight­er air­craft and inte­grat­ed air defense sys­tems deployed to bases and gar­risons in the coastal regions increase Beijing’s abil­i­ty to gain and main­tain air supe­ri­or­i­ty over the Tai­wan Strait.”

These sys­tems would enable Chi­na to con­duct offen­sive counter-air and land attacks against Tai­wanese forces and crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture, he explained.

“In response to this grow­ing threat, Tai­wan author­i­ties have under­tak­en a series of reforms designed to improve the island’s capac­i­ty to deter and defend against an attack by the main­land,” he said.

Point­ing to invest­ments in infra­struc­ture, war reserve, cri­sis response and oth­er reforms, Lavoy said these improve­ments would help to secure the island.

“[These reforms] have rein­forced the nat­ur­al advan­tages of island defense,” he said. “Taiwan’s defense reforms today are impor­tant and nec­es­sary, and fur­ther efforts are need­ed.”

Lavoy referred to the Tai­wan Rela­tions Act as “a good law that makes for good pol­i­cy,” and said it has cre­at­ed the con­di­tions for the two sides to engage in peace­ful dia­logue.

“Our strong secu­ri­ty com­mit­ment to Tai­wan has pro­vid­ed them the con­fi­dence to inten­si­fy dia­logue with the main­land and has result­ed in improved cross-strait rela­tions,” he said. “A Tai­wan that is strong, con­fi­dent and free from threats or intim­i­da­tion is best pos­tured to dis­cuss and adhere to what­ev­er future arrange­ments the two sides of the Tai­wan Strait may peace­ful­ly agree upon.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)