Arms sale to Taiwan may fray China ties

Announcement likely this week

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According to the officials, China’s government also lobbied senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joseph R. Biden during his recent trip to Beijing, against selling new jets.

In Beijing, a government spokesman criticized plans for the upgrade after reports, first disclosed by The Washington Times, that Mr. Obama had approved the arms package for the island, which Beijing views as a breakaway province.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters Friday that “China firmly opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.” She called on the Obama administration to abide by a 1982 joint U.S.-China communique and “stop selling arms to Taiwan.”

According to China’s Caixun financial news outlet, the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party newspaper, stated recently in an editorial that China should use “financial weapons” against the United States if it sells new F-16s to Taiwan, even if doing so would isolate China.

The decision not to sell new F-16s prompted harsh reaction from Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who had been pushing for new jets for Taiwan as a way to bolster the island’s security and create jobs.

The F-16 is made by Lockheed Martin, which has an aircraft production factory in Texas.

Mr. Cornyn called reports that the F-16 C/Ds were rejected “capitulation to communist China by the Obama administration” and said the decision “marks a sad day in American foreign policy, and it represents a slap in the face to a strong ally and longtime friend.”

“This sale would have been a win-win, bolstering the national security of two democratic nations and supporting jobs for an American workforce that desperately needs them,” Mr. Cornyn said.

Mr. Cornyn, with Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, recently introduced legislation that would require the administration to sell the new C/D jets. It contains a provision that states that the United States “must provide” Taiwan with new fighter aircraft under the terms of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

A report Monday in the Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times stated that, despite its opposition to the F-16 upgrade, China is not expected to halt all military exchanges.

The newspaper quoted a Chinese editor as saying a cutoff of all military ties would heighten concerns about China’s expanding military power.

The Obama administration has been seeking closer military ties to China. In January, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates proposed holding talks on nuclear weapons, missile defenses, cyberwarfare and space. A Chinese general promised to study the proposal.

Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the pending arms sale. He said U.S. arms-sale policy is based on the three joint communiques with China and the Taiwan Relations Act.

On military ties, Mr. Little said: “From our perspective, we have made progress in our dialogue as we work toward a healthy, stable and reliable and continuous military-to-military relationship.”

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon ( He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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