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Former White House advisor supports F-16V sale to Taiwan

2019-04-24  English News
Washington, April 22 (CNA) The United States should sell Taiwan F-16V fighter jets because Taiwan's Air Force and military is outgunned by the Chinese side, a former White House advisor said on Monday.

Dennis Wilder, managing director of the Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues and a Georgetown University professor, said the sale would reflect the buildup of Chinese military forces positioned against Taiwan.

Beijing has to accept that if it continues its aggressive military buildup, the United States has committed itself to help Taiwan's self defense under the Taiwan Relations Act, he said in an interview after attending a Brookings Institution forum.

"Therefore I can't see why as long as the Pentagon feels there is a good justification for this, not to sell F-16V to Taiwan," he said.

Speaking on the Trump administration's approach toward Taiwan, the former National Security Council's director for China said the U.S. government is still sending mixed messages on Taiwan.

"I think there needs to be a China-Taiwan policy process that kind of comes out somewhere on the issue because I'm not exactly sure where the Trump administration is on the future of U.S.-Taiwan relations," he said.

David Shear, former U.S Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, agreed with Wilder on arms sales to Taiwan.

Selling F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan is "a very sensible approach to Taiwan's military requirements," he said in an interview.

"There are other areas where we have encouraged Taiwan to work on things that are affordable and asymmetrically address the challenges they face from the Chinese," the veteran diplomat said.

While Taiwan considers F16s, Shear said he hopes "they [the authorities in Taiwan] also consider the other things they need to do to maintain a deterrence and to ensure that the all-volunteer force remains effective."

The Trump administration recently approved a training package for Taiwan's military in support of its F-16 aircraft.

The U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the US$500 million package for Taiwan on April 15 that will continue a pilot training program and offer maintenance/logistics support for F-16 aircraft in Arizona.

The latest round of military sales to Taiwan was the third since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

The John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution on Monday held a meeting themed "U.S.-China diplomacy: 40 years of what's worked and what hasn't", which was attended by Wilder, Shear and Amy Celico, former Senior Director for China Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.