Had a lot of trouble titling this one…. Wendell Minnick reports from Taipei for Defense News that the Bush Administration has frozen arms sales to Taiwan.

As China and Taiwan prepare for their first official talks in more than a decade, sources in both Taipei and Washington say the U.S. State Department has decided to freeze all congressional notifications for $12 billion worth of arms sales to Taiwan.

Sources are mixed on whether the freeze will extend through the remainder of the Bush administration or only until after the August Beijing Olympics. Fears in Taipei are the freeze could become permanent with a new U.S. president in January.

The freeze is part of an effort not to derail Beijing-Taipei negotiations, scheduled to begin June 11, or disturb plans by U.S. President George W. Bush to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

The freeze covers about $12 billion worth of weapon sales now being processed under the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program and items still awaiting approval, including 30 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, 60 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, eight diesel electric submarines, four Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 air defense missile batteries and 66 Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters. The freeze does not include 12 Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which have already been approved.

Sources are saying the State Department, along with heavy lobbying by officials assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, has been pushing hard to freeze arms sales to Taiwan to placate China. The freeze comes at a bad time for the U.S. defense industry, with expected cuts in defense spending and recent problems in the U.S. economy.

Beijing also has been successful at curtailing U.S. defense company activities in Taiwan. Boeing closed its Taipei office two years ago after threats that Beijing would curtail future sales of commercial aircraft.

There’s really nothing to say. Heritage analyst John Tkacik, quoted in the article further down, notes:

“Here, the word is the White House won’t move forward unless Ma asks, and Ma isn’t asking,” Tkacik said. “KMT people blame the delay on the U.S., and the U.S. smiles its Cheshire-Cat smile and says, ‘Taiwan hasn’t asked.’ It seems there’s a decision in Washington to shove Taipei into Beijing’s warm embrace, and Taipei’s leadership is too divided on the issue to make a decision.”

Mark Stokes also notes that the Administration’s move is in violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Taiwan Relations Act:

Mark Stokes, former country director for China and Taiwan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1997-2004, and described by many in the defense community as the “staff coordinator” of the 2001 decision to offer Taiwan submarines, PAC-3s and P-3 Orions by the Bush administration, said the freeze violates the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

“I would argue that the holding of these notifications, and refusal to accept and act upon the LOR for price and availability constitutes a freeze on arms sales to Taiwan. Nothing more and nothing less,” he said. “This assertion is based upon more than a decade of direct and intimate involvement in the process. It also violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Taiwan Relations Act, a legal document that seems to be getting less and less attention these days.”

It is obvious that the Bush Administration has quietly frozen arms to Taiwan for several years now, making hollow the claims that Taiwan doesn’t care about its own defense — with $12 billion in orders awaiting US fulfillment. $12 billion for US workers. $12 billion to keep our defense companies in business and lower our own prices (remember, when we produce more weapons, their prices falls). The international ramifications are vast — how will India and Japan respond when they see the capitulationist positions of the State Department and the Bush Administration? How will this affect the current European embargo of arms to China?

There is really nothing more to say about this gross betrayal of a longtime ally to curry favor with China, done so that the President can attend the Olympics. Just another example of how China is adept at obtaining permanent results from the US in exchange for temporary favors from China.

Time for Congress to step in and force the sale.