2011-04-01 (China Military News cited from CNA) — The U.S. State Department is delaying the sale of an arms upgrade package to Taiwan in an effort to avoid angering China again, a Washington D.C.-based newspaper said Thursday.
Citing national security officials close to the issue, the Washington Times said Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and other senior officials were holding up the arms package and a long overdue report to Congress on Taiwan air power.
F-16 Fighter of Taiwan Air Force.
The officials are "seeking to avoid a third rupture in U.S.- China military relations over Taiwan arms sales, " the paper said in its "Inside the Ring" column.
Taiwan is awaiting the U.S. government’s formal approval of a US$4 billion arms deal to upgrade its fleet of aging F-16 jets.
According to the Washington Times, a U.S. administration official said the Taiwan arms and report issues are a matter of "timing" and that the long delay had forced arms sales officials to go back and re-price elements of the package, causing further delay.
"You don’t want to present a problem without a solution, " the official was quoted as saying in reference to the delay in the Taiwan air power report and what the Pentagon has described as a rapidly shifting balance of air power in China’s favor.
The paper also quoted State Department spokesman Mark Toner as saying with regard to the delay that "no decisions on foreign military sales, including anything related to F-16s, have been made."
"Ever since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed, the entire interagency has been and continues to be involved in the ongoing process to evaluate Taiwan’s defense needs, which informs the U.S. government’s decisions on foreign military sales to Taiwan," he said.
China has twice cut off military relations with the U.S., most recently in early 2010, in retaliation against Washington’s sale of arms to Taiwan, as Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory.