The sale of F-16V jets by the US to Taiwan has not been put on hold, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, denying a US media report that the administration of US President Donald Trump has temporarily set aside the sale to facilitate a trade agreement with China.
Taipei has maintained close communications with Washington since a letter of request to purchase the jets was submitted to the US, ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said.
The US is conducting a review and “the sale has not been shelved,” Lee said.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times
The ministry’s comments came in response to a Time magazine report on Friday that said — citing three anonymous US officials — that the administration had shelved the sale until a trade deal with China is sealed.
The White House’s initial decision, reported late last month, to offer tacit approval for Taiwan to buy 60 Lockheed Martin F-16Vs was widely seen as a US show of strength against China, Time said.
However, the decision to delay approval of the sale has contributed to concern among some in the administration that Trump might go soft on China in his desire to secure a trade deal, it said.
It cited the officials as saying that the draft trade agreement being negotiated would boost Trump’s political fortunes and ease jittery stock markets, but it is unlikely to address many of the issues at the core of the US-China trade dispute.
The US Congress must also approve any arms sales to Taiwan, and the administration has yet to submit such a request to lawmakers, the magazine said.
The US Department of State, which opposed the proposed arms sale, has also called for an interagency meeting to determine whether the US can sell M1 Abrams tanks to Taiwan, Time quoted an administration official as saying.
However, Lee said that the relationship between Taiwan and the US has been close and cordial.
“Since President Trump’s inauguration, the US has sold arms to Taiwan twice, demonstrating its firm support for Taiwan’s security,” Lee said.
High-ranking US officials have publicly reiterated their support for the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), he added.
Signed into law on April 10, 1979, following Washington’s switch of recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the TRA authorizes the US to provide Taiwan with defensive arms.
The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said that the Time report was not based on fact and that US arms sales to Taiwan are in accordance with the TRA and the “six assurances.”
The American Institute in Taiwan said it does not comment on proposed arms sales.
“We only comment after they have been notified to Congress,” the institute said.
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