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U.S.-China Military Contacts: Issues for Congress

Shirley A. Kan

October 27, 2014

Источник: https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/index.html

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This CRS Report, updated through the 113th Congress, discusses policy issues regarding military-to-military (mil-to-mil) contacts with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and records major contacts and crises since 1993. The United States suspended military contacts with China and imposed sanctions on arms sales in response to the Tiananmen Crackdown in 1989. In 1993, President Clinton reengaged with the top PRC leadership, including China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Renewed military exchanges with the PLA have not regained the
closeness reached in the 1980s, when U.S.-PRC strategic alignment against the Soviet Union
included U.S. arms sales to China. Improvements and deteriorations in overall bilateral
engagement have affected military contacts, which were close in 1997-1998 and 2000, but marred by the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait crisis, mistaken NATO bombing of a PRC embassy in 1999, the EP-3 aircraft collision crisis in 2001, and the PLA’s aggressive maritime and air confrontations.
Issues for Congress include whether the Administration complies with legislation overseeing
dealings with the PLA and pursues contacts with the PLA that advance a prioritized set of U.S.
security interests, especially the operational safety of U.S. military personnel. Oversight
legislation includes the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY1990-FY1991 (P.L. 101-246)
and National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2000 (P.L. 106-65). A particular issue is
whether the President is required to issue waivers of sanctions. Skeptics and proponents of
military exchanges with the PRC have debated whether the contacts achieve results in U.S.
objectives and whether the contacts contribute to the PLA’s warfighting capability that might
harm U.S. and allied security interests. Some have argued about whether the value that U.S.
officials place on the contacts overly extends leverage to the PLA. Some believe talks can serve
U.S. interests that include risk-reduction or conflict-avoidance; military-civilian coordination;
transparency and reciprocity; tension reduction over Taiwan; weapons nonproliferation; talks on nuclear, missile, space, and/or cyber domains; counterterrorism; and POW/MIA accounting.
Policy makers could review the approach to mil-to-mil contacts, given concerns about potential
crises and conflicts. U.S. officials have faced challenges in gaining cooperation from the PLA.
The PLA has tried to use its suspensions of exchanges while blaming U.S.-only “obstacles”
(including arms sales to Taiwan, FY2000 NDAA, and air and naval reconnaissance operations).
The PRC’s harassment of U.S. ships and increasing assertiveness in maritime disputes showed
some limits to mil-to-mil engagement, similar views, and PLA restraint. The U.S. articulations in
2011-2012 of a strategic “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific raised an issue of how to deal with
China’s challenges. The Administration’s “rebalance” entails not only expanded engagement with the PLA, but also increasing exercises. The PLA Navy’s invited participation for the first time in the U.S. Navy-led multinational exercise, RIMPAC, based at Hawaii in summer 2014 raised
concerns in Congress and elsewhere. The U.S. Navy has increased some “interoperability” with
the PLA Navy. The Defense Secretary issued the latest required annual report on June 5, 2014,
concerning military and security developments involving the PRC, cooperation, and military-tomilitary contacts. The report noted that the PLA uses combined exercises to improve capabilities by learning from more advanced militaries and asserted that the Defense Department complies with the FY2000 NDAA in all military contacts with China. An issue concerns whether the U.S.
Air Force should send a C-17 transport aircraft to the Zhuhai Air Show in China in November.
Legislation in the 113th Congress includes the FY2014 NDAA (P.L. 113-66); FY2014 Defense
Appropriations Act (H.R. 2397); Asia-Pacific Region Priority Act, H.R. 4495 (Forbes); FY2015
NDAA, H.R. 4435 (McKeon), S. 2410 (Levin), and H.Res. 643 (Chabot).

Obama’s policy on arms sales to Taiwan needs credibility and clarity

By Shirley Kan

Jul 7, 2015

Источник: http://csis.org/publication/pacnet-39-obamas-policy-arms-sales-taiwan-needs-credibility-and-clarity


Just as President George W. Bush raised doubts with a much-criticized “freeze” on arms sales to Taiwan, President Barack Obama has raised questions about his adherence to the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). The TRA guides US policy in making available to Taiwan defense articles and defense services for its “self-defense.” US leadership and credibility regarding the “Rebalance” to Asia requires decisive, urgent action regarding Taiwan. That policy should include tangible follow-up actions to support Taiwan, maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific, and help Taiwan avoid coercion and conflict.

In May, the Office of the Secretary of Defense submitted to Congress its annual report on China’s military power, a report that is coordinated throughout the administration. In it, the administration claimed that “consistent with the TRA, the United States has helped to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Taiwan Strait by providing defense articles and services to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. To this end, the United States has announced more than $12 billion in arms sales to Taiwan since 2010.” The next month, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou boasted that “the U.S. has sold a total of $18.3 billion worth of arms to Taiwan since he took office seven years ago.”

While this is a high-profile, political (perhaps disingenuous) sign of support for Taiwan, it is also incomplete. Compared to Bush’s “freeze,” President Obama’s inaction and changes to policy have dragged on longer with less critical attention. Obama has failed to notify Congress of major Foreign Military Sales (FMS) to Taiwan for almost four years. As Congress will soon recess in August, the president has an imperative to submit arms sales for Congressional review.

The last time that the president notified Congress of major FMS to Taiwan occurred on Sept. 21, 2011. Though not a so-called “package,” the president waited to send to Congress on a single day three notices of proposed programs worth $5.9 billion, including upgrades for Taiwan’s F-16A/B fighters.

Why has the president failed to exercise leadership and sell arms to Taiwan under the TRA since then? First, his inaction cannot be explained by a lack of defensive requirement. Officials and experts are increasingly concerned about China’s potential use of coercion or attacks against Taiwan. The Defense Department’s reports to Congress have warned annually that “preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment.” Moreover, the PRC has been determined to reach military and economic benchmarks by 2020, moving toward a goal of fighting and winning potential conflicts that include those related to Taiwan. Ominously, this year’s report warned that, while Taiwan historically has relied upon multiple military variables to deter aggression by the PRC, its increasingly modern weapons and platforms have “eroded or negated many of these factors” in Taiwan’s defense.

Second, the administration’s inaction cannot be explained by lack of preparation and authorization, nor Taiwan’s lack of interest and funding. For more than five years, the US Navy, other parts of the Executive Branch, and Congress worked on authorization for the Navy to transfer Perry-class frigates as Excess Defense Articles to other navies. After consideration that started during the 112th Congress, the 113th Congress approved legislation that authorized the proposed transfer of excess frigates to Taiwan and Mexico. Last December, the Senate and House passed the authorizing legislation, and President Obama signed it into law.

Third, the administration’s inaction cannot be explained by the US Navy, which would benefit from foreign funds and the transfer of decommissioned ships to other authorized navies without incurring the costs of maintaining inactivated ships. It is in the interest of the Navy to transfer the ships as soon as possible. Chairman Ed Royce of the House Foreign Affairs Committee just visited one of the ships that has completed its final deployment. Taiwan has prepared for years for the potential transfers and included in the 2014 defense budget about $175 million to acquire two excess frigates.

Fourth, the administration’s inaction cannot be explained by military-to-military contacts with China. Expanded contacts have not resulted in significant gains for US interests, since problems persist in China’s military and cyber threats, weapons proliferation, the North Korean threat, buildup against Taiwan, and aggressive expansionism and environmental destruction in the East and South China Seas, etc. Moreover, despite the conventional wisdom about fears of Beijing’s “suspensions” of meetings to retaliate for the arms sales, their impact has been minimal and mixed when it comes to “mil-to-mil” contacts with China.

Three other explanations remain. One, the administration is shifting policy in a smart response to changing conditions and new priorities, even as it demands the status quo from Taiwan.

Two, the president is preferring to delay overdue and justified actions on Taiwan until after a scheduled visit in September by Xi Jinping, the top ruler of the Communist Party of China.

Three, the administration is timing the arms sales to influence the presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan scheduled for January 2016.

These explanations could violate the law as well as stated policies. Section 3(b) of the TRA stipulates that both the president and Congress shall determine the nature and quantity of such defense articles and services “based solely” upon their judgment of the needs of Taiwan, in accordance with procedures established by law. Moreover, in 1982, President Reagan extended “Six Assurances” to Taipei, including assurances that Washington had not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan nor to consult with Beijing on arms sales. At a hearing in the House in October 2011, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell reaffirmed the Six Assurances. At a hearing in the Senate in April 2014, in response to Sen. Marco Rubio, current Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel failed to reaffirm clearly the Six Assurances. After the hearing, Russel promptly clarified that the administration remained committed to the Six Assurances. In September 2011, an official of the administration raised doubts about its professed neutrality in Taiwan’s elections when he gave negative comments to the Financial Times about the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s presidential candidate. In September-December 2011, the administration took various actions, including notifying Congress of arms sales, that some observers saw as attempts to support Ma’s re-election. This May, however, Russel publicly said that the United States does not take sides and does not “take actions that would imply that we are taking sides” in Taiwan’s elections.

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 sale of Perry-class frigates to Taiwan is authorized by law, supports our Navy, and complies with the TRA. The longer the president waits, the more he seems to undermine policies and the stronger is the PRC’s expectation of weakness, and its demand for compromise. Obama also should break the cycle started by President Bush of delaying ready notifications until a “safe time” for sending a bundle of notifications to Congress all on one day. Discussions with Taiwan that result in decisions should return to an on-going basis. Notifications to Congress should return to a routine process. The president should give a straight answer to Congress, industry, and Taiwan on an issue pending for 14 years: whether to assist Taiwan’s diesel-electric submarine program. This option involves the approval or denial of technical assistance for Taiwan’s indigenous defense programs. The president should finalize decision-making to determine if Taiwan needs new fighters to replace aging aircraft (including F-5s that have reached the end of their operational life). Finally, Obama should review policy with transparency, consultation with Congress, and coordination with allies, examining whether a new approach is needed to accommodate changing circumstances in the Taiwan Strait.

Congress has ways to ensure presidential compliance with the TRA. It could write letters to elicit explanations about pending actions. Congress could consider legislation to require reports on the TRA’s implementation. Members might hold up confirmations of nominees in the Defense or State Departments. Along with restricting funds for or requiring reports about spending for military contacts with China, especially as the Pentagon «doubles-down» on such contacts, Congress could shift such spending for use in military cooperation with Taiwan. Congress could suspend reviews of all the president’s proposed arms sales until he notifies Congress to advance arms sales to Taiwan. Indeed, in 1999, after President Clinton delayed a visit by Pentagon officials and considered a cutoff of arms sales to Taiwan, Chairman Ben Gilman of the House International Relations Committee stated, “I cannot accept undercutting Taiwan’s national security and its right under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to receive appropriate security assistance from our nation to meet its legitimate self-defense needs. Accordingly, as a result of my concern, I plan at this point to withhold my approval for arms transfers notified to the Congress until this matter is resolved to my satisfaction.” In any case, Congress needs to increase oversight of the president’s approach to the security challenge in the Taiwan Strait.

US-Japan Defense Guidelines – well done, but only half done

By Grant Newsham

Aug 5, 2015

Источник: http://csis.org/publication/pacnet-45-us-japan-defense-guidelines-well-done-only-half-done


The US-Japan Defense Guidelines agreed to in April are well written and a timely nod to reality. Japan’s implicit promise to operate more closely with – and possibly even fight alongside – US forces injects a dose of equality into the bilateral relationship that potentially reduces Japan’s over-dependence on the United States and charges of ‘free-riding’ that threaten the relationship.

The negotiators deserve a moment of self-congratulation, but one might ask, ‘what now?’ An unnamed Japanese official suggested there’s no need to worry about difficult things like hardware and money since improved personal relationships between US and Japanese officers will strengthen the defense relationship.

Japanese officialdom has long preferred doing (and spending) the bare minimum for the services of the world’s most powerful military. However, cordial relationships don’t prevent or win wars. The Guidelines offer a rare opportunity to reshape US-Japan defense capabilities in practical terms and set precedents that allow even more progress in the future.

Prime Minister Abe did jump the gun in making a political commitment to the United States before passing corresponding legislation in the Diet. Although his security bills are expected to pass, it has proven far more contentious than he expected. Taking advantage of the Guidelines will require a deft hand, clear explanations to the Japanese public, and moving quickly.

Alliance Coordination Mechanism (ACM)

The Guidelines describe an ACM as the linking mechanism for improved defense ties, but don’t explain what it will look like. Hopefully, this will be more than a phone-tree list at US and Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) headquarters. JSDF and US forces can’t just ‘wing it’ in the event of trouble – as happened during Operation Tomodachi (the response to the March 11, 2011 triple disaster) with near disastrous results.

One option is a ‘PACOM forward’ in Tokyo with the mission of creating genuine operational linkages between US and Japanese forces. ‘PACOM forward’ would also be powerful evidence of commitment – both to Japan and the Indo-Pacific writ large. Japan also needs a counterpart organization, such as a Joint Force Headquarters.

Regardless of the ACM’s ultimate form, the test will be whether it makes US and JSDF forces better able to operate together, and is not merely a place to pass messages and arrange key-leader visits.

US-Japan interoperability and integration

The Guidelines call for a more integrated relationship between the two nations’ militaries. The US Navy and the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) have been integrated for the last 50 years and show what’s possible. Other services have too often operated in parallel, however, conducting an exercise routine in which both sides do their own thing followed by barbecues at which the forces are declared best of friends.

To better integrate, US-Japan forces need to plan like it matters – i.e., they are going to operate as one force – for a wider range of regional contingencies. Beyond general promises of support, US commanders need to be certain JSDF will provide specific resources and vice versa.

Besides planning, get out and do fully integrated joint operations. USN and MSDF again show how to do this – typified last fall when a Japanese destroyer seamlessly linked up with a 7th Fleet squadron in SE Asia. Do more of this. In particular, increased joint US-Japan patrols and exercises in the East China Sea and South China Sea – including ground and air forces – will give more substance to the relationship and have operational benefits, not to mention the political and deterrent effects of US and Japanese forces operating together.

Additionally, capitalize on Japan’s nascent amphibious capability and insert a Japanese amphibious ship with GSDF embarked into a 31st MEU/ARG patrol. Linked amphibious forces can be used for HA/DR training and actual humanitarian contingencies. Nothing builds a military relationship like shared operational experience and the joint nature of amphibious operations is the equivalent of ‘cross fit’ training, exercising sea, ground, and air capabilities simultaneously. An ‘amphibious RIMPAC’ exercise in the vicinity of Guam is also a useful longer term objective.

As the Guidelines recommend, look beyond the bilateral relationship. US forces and JSDF working together with partner nations such as Australia, India, Vietnam, ASEAN states, and others improves capabilities and operational relationships. The Talisman Sabre exercise is a good start. The Malabar exercises involving (for now) India, Japan, and the US are another useful opportunity. And one should always remember the political benefits of this sort of multilateral training.

Other areas for practical improvements in line with the Guidelines include:

Communications. If you can’t talk to each other it’s hard to be interoperable or even real allies. JSDF must first fix itself since the JSDF services can barely communicate with each other. And except for the two navies (as usual), bilateral communications capabilities between US and Japanese forces are astonishingly rudimentary.

Joint basing. The Futenma Replacement Facility at Henoko – if it is ever built – should be a joint base – or at least have a permanent GSDF presence. This is in line with the Guidelines’ spirit and will strengthen JSDF relationships with US forces – and have a favorable political effect.

Joint equipment development. Such joint development tends to change the way countries and militaries look at each other, especially if done with an eye toward operational benefits rather than just ensuring one’s defense industries get a share of the loot. One attractive opportunity is joint US-Japan cooperation on developing the next generation Amphibious Assault Vehicle.

Changed mindsets. As much as anything, changed mindsets are needed. Both sides must see each other as real allies and equals. The Japanese are too often standoffish and should open up fully to the US. Japan might note that these days Americans are as leery of being dragged into Japan’s wars as they are of being entrapped in US conflicts. Meanwhile, Americans need to regard the Japanese as genuine partners, the way they do the Australians, the British, and the Canadians.

Japan Spends More

Any commentary about Japan’s defense needs to stress that Japan must spend more for defense. $5 billion a year for five years will get things about right. Japan can afford it, and if it won’t spend money it ultimately is not serious unless one believes improved relationships between Japanese and US officers are enough to defend Japanese and US interests in East Asia. The US and Japanese Guidelines negotiating teams did a fine job. US and Japanese military staffs – and civilian leadership – now need to produce concrete improvements. If a year from now there is little or nothing to show, heads should roll for squandering a golden opportunity.