Taiwan portrayed US President Barack Obama’s administration on Monday as yielding to China at Taipei’s peril and renewed a push for 66 F-16C/D aircraft.
“These years, China is showing stronger and stronger reaction to US-Taiwan arms sales and that [has] turned your country more wary with arms sales,” Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) told an annual US-Taiwan defense industry conference in Virginia that wrapped up yesterday.
The Obama administration informally told US lawmakers on Friday that it would upgrade Taiwan’s 145 existing F-16A/B aircraft, while deferring a request for the more advanced F-16C/Ds.
The F-16 issue underlines the role US arms makers and their political backers play in the sensitive dealings between the world’s two largest economies over Taiwan, the thorniest issue dividing them.
The US government is mandated under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 to provide for Taiwan’s defense. No other country is supplying it for fear of angering Beijing.
France and the Netherlands are among countries that have suffered economic and diplomatic retaliation for having armed Taiwan in the past.
Washington has balked since 2006 at releasing the F-16C/D, which carries a more powerful engine, advanced cockpit controls and updated display technology.
Yang said Taiwan’s top military hardware needs were the new fighters plus diesel-electric submarines — transfers that Beijing has suggested it opposes above all other arms supplies to Taiwan to date.
The new planes would replace antiquated F-5s “to maintain air superiority across the Taiwan Strait in the near future,” Yang said in prepared comments distributed to reporters outside the closed-door conference.
Without the new jets, Taiwan’s air force will shrink, it said.
Arms sales advocates argue that Taiwan must maintain strong deterrent and defensive capabilities so it can negotiate with Beijing from a position of strength.
China’s rise was “an opportunity and a threat to Taiwan and all China’s neighbors,” Yang said, calling on the US to provide advanced technologies so Taiwan could become more self-reliant.
Yang said later that he intended no criticism of the Obama administration’s arms sales policies overall.
However, he said the US should “speed up” preparation of diesel-electric submarine design plans and “quickly consider” the five-year-old request for 66 F-16C/Ds.
The Pentagon was represented at the conference by Acting US Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy. However, “his keynote speech will not be released to the press” at the Pentagon’s insistence, said the US-Taiwan Business Council, which organized the forum that began on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a US official said the upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16A/Bs would provide essentially the same quality as new fighter jets. The official declined to confirm details of the package for Taiwan.
“Assuming the decision is to upgrade F-16A/Bs, they will provide essentially the same quality as new F-16C/D aircraft at a far cheaper price,” the official said in New York.
The Obama administration appears to have been stung by criticism over the proposal to upgrade the aircraft, which was first reported by the Washington Times last week.
The US official sought to dispel any view that Washington was letting down Taiwan.
“First, the US is profoundly committed to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and that commitment remains unwavering. Second, the scale and pace of defense article sales to Taiwan over the past two-and-a-half years is unprecedented,” he said.
US-Taiwan Business Council chairman Paul Wolfowitz, a former US deputy defense secretary and president of the World Bank, said withholding the new F-16C/D models was short-sighted because “you can only keep an old plane flying for so long,” referring to the F-5s.
The F-5s are nearly 40 years old and two of them crashed in Taiwan last week, killing three officers.
“The point is that Taiwan needs more F-16s,” said Dan Blumenthal, a former Pentagon China desk chief now at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank.
In January last year, Obama approved a US$6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan left over from the administration of former US president George W. Bush. In response, China froze military-to-military ties and threatened sanctions against US firms.
PAPERS, PLEASE: A digital certificate or a printout would return one of three results: green for ‘pass,’ red for ‘not passed’ or yellow for ‘to be determined,’ the CECC said Starting today, people can download a Digital COVID-19 Certificate, with the government now requiring people at night clubs, karaoke bars and other businesses in “eight major special establishment categories” to be fully vaccinated and present a vaccination certificate. The eight categories include dance venues, massage parlors, hostess bars and saunas. Customers and service personnel at the venues have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as they can neither avoid contact with people nor strictly observe distancing guidelines, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. As such, both groups are required to be fully vaccinated, meaning that they must have had at least a
LAWMAKERS RALLY: Beijing’s unlegislated actions breach international and WTO trade rules, and affect the basic principles of the EU single market, the letter said A group of 41 EU lawmakers on Tuesday condemned China for its political and economic coercion of Lithuania, and called on leaders of the bloc to demonstrate solidarity with Vilnius. The letter was initiated by Slovakian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Miriam Lexmann, who is cochair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China. “We, the undersigned members of the European Parliament, resolutely condemn political and economic coercion of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) against Lithuania,” the letter said. The letter addressed European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and
ORDER OF 66 JETS: Delivering the F-16s faster and enabling Taiwan to develop its fleet into one of the biggest in Asia would be based on ‘risk assessment,’ one official said The US is looking for ways to accelerate delivery of Taiwan’s next generation of newly built F-16 jets, US officials said, bolstering the Taiwanese air force’s ability to respond to what Taipei and Washington see as increasing intimidation by the Chinese military. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that they have not yet come up with a solution on how to speed up delivery of Block 70 F-16s, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp and equipped with new capabilities. The aircraft are slated to be delivered by the end of 2026. Taipei has privately expressed its wish for a faster delivery
‘GOOD FRIEND’: The Slovenian prime minister said he had visited Taiwan four or five times, and that Taiwanese should have the right to determine their future The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday welcomed Slovenia’s plan to establish a representative office in Taiwan, after Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa revealed the plan in an interview with Indian TV station Doordarshan on Monday. Taiwan is a democratic country that respects international democratic standards and international laws, the Slovenian prime minister said in the interview. Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” he said. “Of course, this will not be on the level of embassies. It will be on the same level as many of the EU member countries.” “When I spoke with our businessmen who are trading with Taiwan, they