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   Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA)

PENTAGON News Briefing

Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 2:00 p.m. EDT

Presenter: Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon

Q: Can we talk about Taiwan a little bit? Were there any recommendations that the Pentagon made that didn't get accepted by the White House?

MR. BACON: Well, on the Taiwan issue, basically, the Pentagon recommended a package, which I'm not going to be able to describe in great detail from the podium. And the package was adopted by the president's national security team and by the president himself, and has been presented to Taiwan. And it was, I think, a very good process that involved a number of governmental agencies. There was a good discussion.

I think the important thing to stress here is that it is part of a process, that over the years the United States has authorized fairly extensive arms sales to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, which commits us to meeting Taiwan's defensive needs, helping Taiwan meet its defensive needs.

And we have sold approximately $18 billion worth of arms to Taiwan over an extended period of time. These include F-15s (sic) [F-16s] and some frigates, Knox Class frigates, some air defense missiles, radars, tanks to defend against amphibious invasion, and other types of equipment, including Patriot missiles. So this was another part of that ongoing process to help Taiwan meet its defensive needs.

Q: Was PAC 3 part of the package?

MR. BACON: I don't think I'll get into what was in the package and what was not in the package. If something wasn't in it this year, it could well be in it in some future year.

Yes?

Q: What's the next step now in this whole process?

MR. BACON: Well, the next step is the way we handle arms sales to Taiwan traditionally -- at

some appropriate time, Taiwan will agree to specific packages that will include numbers, price, delivery schedules, training and support packages. And at that time, the Pentagon will make proposals for arms sales to Congress.

And the way the system works, we propose an arms sale. If Congress doesn't object, after 30 days, we can go ahead with the transaction. If Congress does object for some reason, it obviously has the right to hold hearings to explore the reasons for the sale, the dynamics of the sale, et cetera. I don't anticipate that there will be problems with these, when they are formally proposed, but it may take some time for the details to be worked out and the formal proposals to go to Congress.

Q: What can you also tell us about meetings that Pentagon officials have had with the Chinese CNO over the last couple of days? Has this whole issue come up? Have you discussed it with him?

MR. BACON: Well, we do not consult with the People's Republic of China about our

responsibilities to help Taiwan meet its defensive needs.

Obviously, the Chinese have strong views about our relationship with Taiwan. So do we, and our relationship with Taiwan is well-specified in law and we have explained that law to the people from the Mainland many, many times, and I think they understand what the law requires us to do.

We have also made it very clear to them, and Secretary Cohen has done this on several occasions, we've made it very clear to the PRC that because we, under the law, help Taiwan respond to defensive needs, the greater the threat posed by China, the greater Taiwan's defensive needs will be. And we have called on both sides to show restraint -- particularly on the Chinese -- to show restraint in their arms developments and deployments and use of arms.

Q: Can I just ask one last question? Could you assess -- do you still see China increasing or

upgrading or expanding its missile positions along the coastline of China facing Taiwan?

MR. BACON: Yes.

Q: Can you quantify some of this for us?

MR. BACON: Well, Admiral Blair quantified it here in a briefing. He said they're adding about 50 surface-to-surface missiles a year, and nothing has changed that pace as far as I know, from Admiral Blair's briefing. It was about two months ago.

Q: Even though you won't outline what's in this package of arms, can you say whether or not some of the weapons are designed to counter that specific threat? Are there systems or weapons that would be defensive in nature that would help against a threat from missiles?

MR. BACON: Well, as I pointed out, we in the past have sold Taiwan versions of the Patriot

Missile, and it's no secret that last year we made a decision to help Taiwan upgrade its early warning radars, and that process will continue. Obviously, early warning radars can be used to alert populations and militaries to airplane attacks as well as missile attacks, and we are in the process of working closely with Taiwan to help it upgrade its early warning radar operations.

Q: Is there anything in the package that represents a new capability for Taiwan, or is this adding to stuff they already have?

MR. BACON: No, there are several weapons that were approved for the first time, some that we've denied in the past and approved this time around.

Again, it's a recognition that the threat seems to have increased, and therefore their defensive capabilities can reasonably be expected to increase as well.

 
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