US senator again pushes F16 sales to Taiwan

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Thu, Dec 06, 2012 - Page 3

Republican US Senator John Cornyn is again trying to force US President Barack Obama to sell F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan.

He has introduced an amendment ordering the sale to the bill authorizing the US’ defense budget for next year.

“The president shall carry out the sale of not fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan,” the amendment says.

At the very least, it will put the proposed sale back on the White House agenda and push Obama to consider the sale again as he negotiates with Capitol Hill over the final defense spending bill.

It is the latest in a string of moves by Cornyn to get the sale approved.

F-16s are manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Cornyn’s political district in Texas and a big contract with Taiwan would provide Texas with a lot of high-paying jobs.

The amendment is co-sponsored by Republican Senator Robert Menendez. The F-16 sale would also provide jobs in Menendez’s state of New Jersey.

Asked to explain his actions earlier this year, Cornyn said: “This sale is a win-win, in strengthening the national security of our friend Taiwan as well as our own, and supporting tens of thousands of jobs in the US.”

“Saying no would mean granting Communist China substantial sway over American foreign policy, putting us on a very slippery slope,” he said.

Cornyn’s amendment comes as the US Congressional Research Service has just issued an updated report titled Taiwan: Major US Arms Sales Since 1990.

Written by Asian Security Affairs specialist Shirley Kan, the report details US security assistance to Taiwan and discusses policy issues concerning Taiwan.

It says that US arms transfers to Taiwan have been significant despite the absence of a defense treaty, or a diplomatic relationship.

A total of US$4.3 billion in defense articles and services were delivered to Taiwan from 2004 to 2007 and US$2.9 billion between 2008 and last year.

Among customers worldwide, Taiwan ranked fourth (behind Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) from 2004 to 2007 and fifth (behind Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Australia) from 2008 to last year.

Last year, Taiwan ranked eighth among worldwide customers.