Thursday, January 22, 2009

France to Sell Leclerc MTB to Taiwan

French just announced it would sell Leclerc MTB (main battle tank) to Taiwan, partially as compensation for the scandal entangled La Fayette frigates deal back in 1992.

Leclerc is acclaimed the most advanced western MTB today. It is light, fast, equipped with most advanced information system, and is capable of quick reloading and precise targeting. It is especially well suit for the road condition in Taiwan, where most of the land is hilly and the rest full of swamps lakes and rivers.

For mainland China, the move is no different than how British sees a foreign country selling tanks to Irish Republican Army. The Sino-France tie has already been soured after French President Sarkozy met exile Dalai Lama a few months ago. The Chinese premier Wen Jiabao is on his way visiting a range of European countries, with the notable omission of France.

France sold Taiwan six La Fayette class frigates in 1992. Shortly after, the body of a navy colonel who had been close to the negotiation was washed up shore in Taiwan. A subsequent investigation showed $120 million dollars kickback was paid by the French party to state holders, including politicians in Taiwan, Taiwan naval officers, international brokers. In addition, and to the world's surprise, $366 million dollars was paid to French officials and communist higher-ups in Beijing. Disgraced France had proposed selling minehunter ship, Mirage fighters, and upgrading the La Fayette frigates in 2006 as a compensation. But the project was exposed and killed by public outcry in Taiwan.

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