US Administration Proposes to Sell F-16V Aircraft to Taiwan for $8 Billion
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After deploying troops to the border, the Chinese authorities have warned that they will not remain “idle” if the demonstrations underway in Hong Kong were to “degenerate.” This territory, which was once under British sovereignty, has, until 2047, a wide autonomy from Beijing. But the announcement in April of a bill to allow for judicial extraditions to mainland China sparked off the heat. Hence the current dispute, whose demands now include the resignation of Carrie Lam, the head of the Hong Kong executive.
In addition to Hong Kong, Tibet or Xianjiang also pose problems in Beijing, whose latest White Paper on Defense insists on the need to intensify the fight against “separatists.” But this document places particular emphasis on the island of Taiwan, considered a “rebel province.”
China asserts that the People’s Liberation Army [PLA] “will resolutely defeat anyone who tries to separate Taiwan from China and will at all costs safeguard national unity,” after denouncing Taipei’s efforts towards independence as well as “foreign influences”. Also, Beijing is resolutely opposed to the delivery of US arms to the Taiwanese forces.
In July, China again “urged the United States to immediately cancel” the sale in Taiwan of 108 M1A2T Abrams’ and it will probably do the same after the last decision of the administration of Donald Trump.
Indeed, on August 16, the White House proposed to sell in Taipei 66 F-16 Block 70/72 “Viper” combat aircraft [the latest version of the Lockheed-Martin aircraft] for $8 billion. This information has been confirmed by several Republican congressional officials, including Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
The decision, which will be forwarded to Congress for approval, “is an important step in supporting Taiwan’s self-defense efforts,” Rubio said. “As the Chinese government and the Communist Party seek to expand their authoritarian reach in the region, it is essential that the United States continue to strengthen its strategic relationship with our democratic partner, Taiwan, with steady and consistent support,” he said.
Two Republican House of Representatives Eliot Engel and Michael McCaul said the F-16V sale “sends a strong message about the US commitment to security and democracy in the Indo-Pacific region against Chinese military aggression.”
— House Foreign Affairs GOP (@HouseForeignGOP) 16 August 2019