American Institute in Taiwan Director William Stanton yesterday denied media reports that the administration of US President Barack Obama had frozen congressional notifications of arms sale to Taiwan because of pressure from China.
Stanton reiterated the US government's commitment to make available to Taiwan defense articles and services based on its evaluation of Taiwan's defense needs as stipulated in the Taiwan Relations Act.
“Whatever the press may say, we abide by the Taiwan Relations Act. We continue on the regular basis to assess Taiwan's defense needs and act in accordance with the assessment … So nothing changes as to our policy on arms sales to Taiwan,” he said when asked for comments on reports by Defense News that three notifications had been frozen, with more expected to stack up as the year progresses.
US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers was quoted by the Taipei Times as saying that the freeze has been in force for “at least a month,” but would not confirm the content of the notifications.
“I am not aware of any suspension right now,” Stanton said.
He said it was a “misunderstanding” that there were scheduled notifications for arms deals.
“There is no schedule particularly for notifications. Notification occurs when you need to notify the Congress because an arms sale is going to take place. Until that happens, until the US government makes decisions on an arms sale, there is no notification,” Stanton said.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency is required by law to notify Congress of the arms deal after it is announced by the US government. US lawmakers have 30 days to comment on the proposed deal.