A former US Department of Defense official on Friday said that Washington’s arms sale policy toward Taiwan is not expected to undergo major changes under US President Donald Trump’s administration.
In a discussion at the Atlantic Council think tank, Abraham Denmark, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia in former US president Barack Obama’s administration, said it takes time for a new government to develop its strategy, and the Trump administration’s overall plan regarding Taiwan is still unclear.
Denmark said that Trump was supportive of arms sales to Taiwan before he launched his presidential campaign, as evidenced by a 2011 tweet in which he criticized Obama for not providing F-16 jets to Taiwan.
Although it is unclear how Trump sees these issues now, Denmark said he did not expect to see major changes in US arms sale policy toward Taiwan.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ remarks quoting the Taiwan Relations Act at this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore were welcome and signaled that Taiwan is part of the US’ Asia strategy, he said.
He also said that Taiwan’s intention to buy F-35 jets is a “very complicated issue” that the two sides should work together to study.
The kind of infrastructure and support investment that is needed and how the deal fits with Taiwan’s broader defense budget should also be considered, Denmark added.
The Taiwan-US relationship should be considered in a more comprehensive way, beyond arms sales and military exchanges, he said.
The US also engages in trade and investment there, and also seeks international space for Taiwan, Denmark added.
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