US Official Defends Policy on China, Taiwan

Posted October 4th, 2011 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior U.S. official says the efforts of the Obama administration to improve relations with Beijing have helped increase stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell made the comment to a congressional panel Tuesday. He denied that the administration's moves to boost ties with China have hurt relations with Taiwan.

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum have criticized the administration for declining to sell the latest model of F-16 fighter jets to Taipei. Campbell told the panel that a supply of equipment and services carefully selected by the U.S. government will enable Taiwan to resist any intimidation and coercion from the mainland.

Last month, the Obama administration announced a new $5.85 billion arms sales package to Taiwan. Under the deal, the U.S. will upgrade Taiwan's fleet of 145 F-16 fighter jets and will extend by five years the training program for Taiwanese pilots. But Taiwan had asked the U.S. for 66 new F-16 fighter jets.

The announcement of the new arms sales provoked an angry response from Beijing and a demand that the deal be cancelled.

Campbell said the deal is consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act (of 1979) and with the U.S. commitment to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

He also criticized China for building up its military forces directed at Taiwan at a time when relations with the island are improving and economic ties are stronger than ever since the two sides split in 1949.