US President Barack Obama will announce his decision on whether to sell advanced F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan no later than Oct. 1. His administration is expected to deliver a long awaited report on Taiwan’s airpower to the US Congress at the same time.
US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond--Chambers said that while he welcomed the commitment to make a decision, he felt that the timing of the announcement signaled that the administration would not sell the 66 new F-16C/Ds that Taiwan desperately needs.
“The timing of the planned decision — prior to Oct. 1 — suggests that the Obama administration has no intention of moving forward with the new F-16 C/D buy,” he said. “The decision is sandwiched between [US] Vice President [Joseph] Biden’s trip to China in August and [Chinese] President Hu [Jintao’s (胡錦濤)] trip to Hawaii in November. Xi Jinping (習近平), Hu’s expected successor, will also visit the US in the winter.”
“It doesn’t seem plausible that the Obama administration would stand up for Taiwan policy in the face of two such senior visits from China,” he said.
News that a decision deadline had been set came from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who had been negotiating with Senator John Cornyn to lift his block on the US Senate confirmation of Bill Burns to be her new deputy. Cornyn had threatened to maintain the hold on Burns’ confirmation until the Obama administration accepted Taiwan’s “Letter of Request” to buy the new F-16s and delivered the Taiwan airpower report which is expected to emphasize the need for the fighters.
Clinton informed Cornyn by telephone this week while she was in India that the report would be delivered and a decision on the sale announced by Oct. 1. On that basis, the senator lifted his hold on Burns’ confirmation.
Congressional sources agree with Hammond-Chambers that it now seems unlikely Obama will sell the F-16C/Ds, choosing instead to offer to upgrade Taiwan’s aging F-16A/Bs. While the upgrades will anger Beijing, the reaction is not expected to be anything like as severe as it would be to a sale of new F-16C/Ds.
The congressional sources — senior staff members — said they suspected Obama was bowing to Chinese pressure despite his promise not to give special consideration to Chinese sensitivities when making the decision.
“While the US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the Obama administration’s commitment to finally make a decision, we suspect that the outcome simply reiterates decisions already made, and therefore fails to address Taiwan’s central need — new combat aircraft to meet the growing threat from China,” Hammond-Chambers said.
In addition, the F-16 A/B -upgrade has been in the US system for over a year, and a decision was made in 2010 to proceed with this program,” -Hammond-Chambers said “It is not a new commitment.”
Hammond-Chambers said the Taiwan Airpower Report was intended to inform Congress about Taiwan’s defense needs and it was originally scheduled for March 1 last year.
“It is now fully 18-plus months late and it will be delivered on the same day that a decision on the F-16s is made. This negates the original intent of the report — to inform congressional debate prior to a decision,” he said.
“I urge the administration — at all levels — to support the sale of new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan and to protect more than 87,000 jobs connected to the program,” he said. “At a time when America needs every job it can generate, this sale will mean more than US$17 billion to the US economy. Meanwhile, it would also protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he added.
Reached by the Taipei Times for comment in Taipei, American Institute in Taiwan spokesperson Christopher Kavanagh said: “We continue to evaluate Taiwan’s defense needs. No decisions have been made on potential arms sales to Taiwan.”
Meanwhile, Director-General of the Department of North American Affairs Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達) said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been informed by the US of the reported decisions.
The ministry welcomed any decisions by the US that help enhance Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, he added.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan
DIPLOMATIC MOVES: Beijing is reportedly pressing the state after reports of forming links with Taiwan, while the ministry is also planning to reopen its office in Guam soon A representative office is set to open in Somaliland at the end of this month, at the earliest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday amid reports that Beijing is sending a diplomatic delegation to the east African country. The ministry on July 1 announced that Taiwan and Somaliland would establish representative offices, following a report by the Somaliland Chronicle Web site. It said at the time that the two nations did not plan to establish formal ties. Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has instructed close confidants to explore the possibility of “mutual recognition between Taiwan and Somaliland,” the Somaliland Chronicle reported
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s
NEW ERA: Taiwan, which has controlled its virus outbreak, now faces the challenge of safely resuming economic exchanges with other nations, Chang Shan-chwen said People should not focus entirely on having zero new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Taiwan, but neglect overall control over the disease situation, Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) specialist advisory panel convener Chang Shan-chwen (張上淳) said yesterday. Chang made the remark at a forum in Taipei discussing the steps Taiwan should take in the post-pandemic era, organized by the Chinese-language magazine Global Views Monthly. Chang, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), and Stanford University’s Center for Policy, Outcomes and Prevention director C. Jason Wang (王智弘) each made a presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Chang, Wang and Buddhist Tzu