The US’ presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admires Taiwan’s democratic society and does not believe that the US should abandon Taiwan, a campaign aide to Romney said.
Earlier this month Romney posted his policies on China and East Asia on his official Web site, in which he said that “we should be coordinating with Taiwan to determine its military needs and supplying them with adequate aircraft and other military platforms.”
This has led some observers in Washington to interpret that, should Romney win the US presidential election in November, his administration might be more willing to sell F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan.
In a recent exclusive interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), the Romney campaign’s foreign and national security policy director Alex Wong confirmed the presidential hopeful’s inclination to sell the jets.
He added that while US President Barack Obama’s administration has held back on selling the F-16s to Taiwan, “Governor Romney strongly believes that we should sell Taiwan those air fighters to ensure Taiwan’s ability to defend its democracy.”
Saying selling the fighters to Taiwan would increase jobs in the US while maintaining the US’ security benefits in the Asia-Pacific region, Wong also said this was the primary policy difference separating Romney from Obama.
Romney wishes to maintain the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait and does not recognize the validity of recent calls to abandon Taiwan, Wong said, adding that the US would be standing side by side with its partners in the Asia-Pacific region and work with them to prevent China from engaging in military intimidation of its neighbors.
Romney’s strategy is to encourage China to integrate into the regional and global system led by the US and become a responsible partner, rather than a belligerent power, Wong said.
The development of Asia in the past three decades is incredible and the US wishes for the continuation of regional stability and prosperity, the continuation of free trade, and the development of democracy and human rights, he added.
This is why Romney feels that the US has to maintain a strong military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, so that a rising China would not seek to dominate the region, Wong said.
He added that it is not Romney’s wish to encourage an arms race between the US and China, but rather the belief that only through the strong military capability of the US and its partners in the Asia-Pacific region would regional peace and stability be maintained.
If China’s military power continues to grow while the US’ power wanes, it would cause China to use its military prowess to intimidate its neighbors or handle sovereignty issues, Wong said.
For Romney, a military resolution is only reserved as the last option, when all other channels have been exhausted, Wong said, adding that the same sentiment applies to the non-proliferation of nuclear bombs in North Korea.
Romney wishes to resolve issues through peaceful measures and in the case of North Korea, through more stringent and severe economic sanctions, Wong said.