Relations between the United States and China have been strained in recent weeks. There is the ongoing trade dispute, and tensions about protests in Hong Kong. Another factor that is developing: planned U.S. arms sales to Taiwan
The Trump Administration is moving ahead with plans to sell some 8-billion dollars of fighter jets to Taiwan. The deal involves 66 F-16’s — known as the “Fighting Falcon Viper.”
It’s by far the largest arms deal to Taiwan during President Trump’s term.
The move has been expected, Taiwanese media reported back in March that the Taipei government had requested to purchase the F-16’s.
The Washington Post and other media outlets have reported that the Trump administration had been delaying the process for potential leverage in trade talks with China.
Last month, the U.S. government finalized a $2.2 billion deal for 108 Abrams tanks and support equipment – along with 250 Stinger missiles.
Previous military aid to Taiwan under the Trump Administration has been more modest—about half a billion dollars in 2017, 330 million last year, and about $1.4 billion this past April.
The arms deals need to go through congressional review, but that’s not expected to be a problem on this round, because this has already received bi-partisan support.
The deal should also not be a surprise to the Beijing government, but late last week, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman urged the administration to “refrain” from the sale — adding “Otherwise, the Chinese side will surely make strong reactions, and the U.S. will have to bear all the consequences.”