US Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to embark on a state visit to China in the middle of next month, will provide assurances to Beijing that the US has no plans to sell Taiwan the F-16C/D aircraft it is seeking, reports said yesterday.
During his visit, Biden will explain why the US President Barack Obama’s administration, facing pressure from US Congress and required to meet its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, would agree to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 144 F-16A/B aircraft, the Chinese-language news service DW News (多維新聞) reported, citing an unnamed “senior US official.”
However, Biden will reportedly tell his Chinese hosts that Washington has no plans to sell to Taiwan the 66 more advanced F-16C/D it has been seeking since 2006, the report said.
An official announcement on Washington’s decision not to release the F-16C/Ds and to proceed on the upgrade plan will be made in September, it said.
Contacted for comment, US-based officials knowledgeable about arms sales to Taiwan could not -corroborate the information about Biden’s planned assurances, nor could the identity of the “senior official” be independently ascertained.
At press time, the Taipei Times was still awaiting a response from Biden’s office.
The US$4.5 billion upgrade program for the F-16A/Bs is seen as unlikely to cross Beijing’s “red line” on arms sales to Taiwan. While China is expected to go through the motions and make a solemn protest, few believe that it would result in the renewed suspension of military exchanges between the US and China, as happened following the announcement by Washington of a US$6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan in January last year.
During an official visit to the US earlier this year, People’s Liberation Army Chief of General Staff Chen Bingde (陳炳德) said that while Beijing would react to any US arms sales to Taiwan, the severity of its reaction would depend on the nature of the sale.
Other factors, such as whether Obama will meet the Dalai Lama on his current visit to the US, could influence how Beijing responds.
Ministry of National Defense spokesperson David Lo (羅紹和) would not confirm the veracity of the report to the Taipei Times, adding that procurement requests for the F-16C/Ds from the US was a firm policy of the country.
Asked for comment, Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Department of North American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said the ministry had noted reports in the media about the planned visit to China by Biden and “would closely monitor those developments.”
Biden’s visit will be followed by a visit to the US by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) at the end of the year. The plans were finalized during the state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to the US early this year, Linghu said.
Biden’s visit to China and Xi’s to the US are major events this year for the US, he said, adding that in accordance with precedent, Washington would brief Taipei on the meetings between senior Chinese and US officials before and afterwards.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and Rich Chang
LAND ALERT UNCERTAIN: The CWB was waiting to observe how In-Fa shifts as it moves north to determine when to issue a land alert, a forecaster at the bureau said Residents of northern Taiwan should brace for heavy rain today and tomorrow as Typhoon In-Fa approaches the northeast, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday. A land alert for the typhoon would be issued depending on the angle at which it moves north today, the bureau said. The bureau on Wednesday issued a sea alert for the typhoon, which applies to ships operating off the nation’s northern, northeastern and southeastern coasts. As of 8:30pm yesterday, In-Fa’s center was 470km southeast of Taipei, moving northwest at 6kph. It was carrying maximum sustained winds of 180kph, and had a radius of 200km. The typhoon was moving
‘BREAKTHROUGH’: All countries should be free to pursue closer ties with Taiwan, a leading democracy, a major economy, and a force for good in the world, the AIT said Taiwan is to establish a “Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania,” the first office in Europe to be called Taiwanese, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced yesterday. “It is an important diplomatic breakthrough,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Facebook, thanking diplomatic personnel for the significant achievement. To expand the nation’s relations with central and eastern Europe, especially with Baltic nations, the government decided to establish the office in Vilnius, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) told an online news conference. The plan signals progress in Taiwan-Europe relations, as it has been 18 years since the nation last opened an office on the
TARGET RAISED: The CECC said vaccination coverage has reached 24.35%, while Premier Su Tseng-chang said the government hopes for 30% by the end of July The government has signed a contract to buy an additional 36 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, 1 million of which are to be delivered in the fourth quarter, the Executive Yuan announced yesterday, as it updated its vaccination target to 30 percent coverage by the end of the month. The two-year deal with the US company covers “prime series” vaccines and future booster shots to protect against SARS-CoV-2 variants, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) quoted Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) as saying during an Executive Yuan meeting in Taipei. In the two weeks since vaccine registration opened, more than 9.8
STAY VIGILANT: Although a level 2 alert would raise the limit on indoor gatherings to 50, people should still wear masks and practice social distancing, the center said A nationwide COVID-19 alert is to be lowered from level 3 to 2 on Tuesday, but strict border controls would remain, the government said yesterday. The level 3 alert in place since May 19 is to end on Monday, with a level 2 alert in place from Tuesday until Aug. 9, the Executive Yuan said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a news conference in Taipei that over the next two weeks, people should still wear masks at all times outdoors, except while eating or drinking, and practice social distancing. The maximum