According to The Washington Post, the Trump administration, which China has been verbally attacking for weeks, is going to sell $8 billion worth of new F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.
The Post reported, “The State Department submitted the package to Congress for informal review late Thursday, and it is not expected to meet opposition, according to several U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter. It would be the largest and most significant sale of weaponry to Taiwan in decades.”
Defensenews.com reported, “The State Department advanced the sale late yesterday for informal review and approval by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to Capitol Hill sources. From there, there is a mandatory 30-calendar-day formal review process before state can issue a letter of offer and acceptance to Taiwan for the sale.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Jim Risch, (R-ID) stated that the sale is “critical to improving Taiwan’s ability to defend its sovereign airspace, which is under increasing pressure from the People’s Republic of China,” adding, “Taiwan is a steadfast partner of the United States in advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, and the United States remains firmly committed to supporting its defense.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lauded the action on Friday, calling “an important step in support of Taiwan’s self-defense efforts.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and ranking Republican Michael McCaul (TX) agreed in a joint statement, writing, the sale “sends a strong message about the U.S. commitment to security and democracy in the Indo-Pacific.”
Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, dismissed concerns that the sale to Taiwan would exacerbate U.S.-China tensions, saying, “China never likes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Will they object? Yes. Is this going to trigger a crisis in the relationship? No. This in and of itself is not going to derail progress on a trade agreement.”
Defensenews.com noted, “The F-16V is the most advanced version of a plane that already forms the backbone of Taiwan’s air forces. The country is expected to use the F-16Vs to replace the Northrop F-5E/Fs that are being retired in the next couple of years.”
In May, China threatened to retaliate against the United States for limiting the federal dollars spent on Chinese products; the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Daily, intimated that China would stop exporting “rare earth” minerals to the United States. The People’s Daily wrote, “Don’t say we didn’t warn you!” That phrase has been historically used by the Chinese Communist party to threaten armed warfare. Last week, the Treasury Department announced that it had declared China a currency manipulator.
This week, according to a spokesman for the United States Pacific Fleet, China banned two U.S. warships from visiting Hong Kong and accused members of Congress from both parties of being “the black hand” behind the protesters in Hong Kong rallying against the government of Communist China.