About $8 billion worth of U.S.-made firepower will be staring at China from across the Taiwan Strait as the result of a news arms deal.
The 10-year deal will provide Taiwan with the latest version of the F-16 fighter to replace and update the current F-16s in Taiwan’s air force, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
The AFP reported the Pentagon announced the deal as part of a $62 billion contract with Lockheed Martin without naming the buyer, but that sources confirmed to it that some of the jets are bound for Taiwan.
Bloomberg reported that Taiwan will be buying 66 F-16s. It said the U.S. sold Taiwan 150 F-16s in 1992.
The F-16s heading to Taiwan will be have a fire control radar made by Northrop Grumman Corp. called the APG-83, which allows precision-guided munitions to be fired at greater distances, Bloomberg reported.
US formalizes F-16 jet sale to Taiwan with China tensions high
— Asian Live Updates (@asianliveupdate) August 16, 2020
— Taiwan News (@TaiwanNews886) August 15, 2020
The deal is bound to anger China, because Taiwan, about 100 miles off the coast of China, was the island to which the former Nationalist government of China retreated in 1949 after losing the war for power on the mainland. China’s position is that the island is rightfully part of its territory. The U.S., however, has supported Taiwan’s independence by supplying the island nation with extensive military aid.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian objected in May when the Trump administration announced a $180 million arms sale to Taiwan, according to CNN.
“China is firmly opposed to the US arms sales to Taiwan and has made solemn representations to the US. We urge the US side to strictly abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three Sino-US joint communiques, and stop arms sales to Taiwan and military links between the United States and Taiwan to avoid further damage to Sino-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said in a statement.
When a 2019 arms sale announcement was made, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said supporting Taiwan is essential, according to a CNN report from the time.
“As the Chinese government and Communist Party seeks to extend its authoritarian reach in the region, it is critical that the United States continue to enhance our strategic relationship with our democratic partner Taiwan through regular and consistent support,” Rubio said.
The Trump administration’s support for Taiwan was shown by last week’s visit of Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to Taiwan.
“It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from President Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said, according to The New York Times. “Taiwan’s response to Covid-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent, democratic nature of Taiwan’s society and culture.”
The visit was deplored by China.
“The United States will gradually turn Taiwan into a gunpowder keg for the Sino-US game, and Taiwan will slide to the brink of being detonated by the United States and lose its ability to choose its own strategy,” editorialized The Global Times, a news outlet published by the Chinese Communist Party’s People’s Daily.
China also used the occasion of Azar’s visit to have fighter jets cross the midpoint of the Taiwan Strait, resulting in Taiwan scrambling its jets before the Chinese planes turned back, according to Reuters.
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