The US State Department on Tuesday approved the sale of 66 F-16 fighters to Taiwan, a measure that could tighten China’s stance.
This sale is “conforming” to “our commitment to maintain Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities,” said a senior Foreign Ministry official announcing this sale, a message addressed to Beijing, which considers Taiwan as one of its provinces.
The State Department officially communicated to Congress its intention to proceed with this sale, managed several days ago by Washington.
On Monday, the head of diplomacy, Mike Pompeo, had already referred to the issue during an interview with the Fox network. “We are only respecting our promises,” he said.
The fighters “will substantially improve” defense capabilities “to help defend Taiwan and maintain the freedom and welfare of the people,” the Taipei government said in a statement.
The approval of the sale will play a key role in “peace and stability in the Strait and the region of Taiwan, especially following the frequent military actions of China…in the region in recent years,” he added.
US lawmakers have a period of 30 days to oppose this sale, something that has not been going on for decades.
Taiwan already has a fleet of F-16s purchased in 1992.
In addition to the 66 aircraft, Taiwan will receive 75 reactors, radars and various spare parts that will enable its Air Force to keep its devices in good condition.
“The military cooperation with Taiwan allowed promoting peace and security in the Taiwan Strait and in the region, and will continue to do so,” said the State Department source that requested anonymity.
China considers Taiwan as part of its territory. The island is run by a rival regime since the seizure of power by the communists on the continent in 1949 after a civil war.
The United States, which broke its diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 in order to recognize Beijing as the only Chinese representative, is nevertheless the most powerful ally of the island territory and its main arms supplier.
The president of the United States, Donald Trump, has not hidden his claims to strengthen ties with the island, mainly on the military level, providing it with sophisticated weapons systems.