US Announces New Arms Sales to Taiwan

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 9:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The United States has formally announced plans for a new arms sales package to Taiwan, totaling $5.85 billion.

The Obama administration notified Congress Wednesday of the deal that will upgrade Taiwan's fleet of 145 F-16 fighter jets and will extend by five years the training program for Taiwanese pilots .

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Mark Toner, said the package will make an immediate and significant contribution to Taiwan's capability to defend its air space. He said that with this sale, the U.S. will have sold Taiwan more than $12 billion in arms in two years, which he said clearly demonstrates the U.S. continued commitment to the island's defense capabilities.

Taiwan's government and many U.S. lawmakers wanted a bigger deal, including the sale of 66 advanced F-16 fighter jets. But on Tuesday a senior U.S. official said the plan to upgrade Taiwan's fleet of F-16 fighters will provide the same level of quality as the more advanced fighters that Taiwan is seeking to purchase.

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, reacted furiously, saying the new round of arms sales will damage Sino-U.S. relations.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke in Beijing to deliver a protest.

The U.S. is obliged under a 1979 law to supply Taiwan with arms for self-defense, despite the official U.S. one-China policy.