Expedite Taiwan arms sales, US House committee urges Trump administration

The US Foreign Affairs Committee’s recommendation comes two days after Panama switched its formal ties to Beijing from Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 8:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 June, 2017, 11:46am

The US Congress’ lower chamber has urged the Trump administration to speed up new arms sales to Taiwan, two days after Panama cut ties with Taiwan and switched its official recognition to Beijing.

“I remain concerned about successive administrations’ delays in arms sales notification for Taiwan, which have needlessly dragged out the arms sales process,” said Ed Royce, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, during a US-Taiwan hearing Thursday in Washington.

Royce said he hopes to see regular notifications in the future, and looks forward to the announcement of new sales this year.

US President Donald Trump is reportedly crafting a big new arms package this year for Taiwan that could include advanced rocket systems and anti-ship missiles.

The package is expected to be larger than the US$1.8 billion arms sales authorised by former US President Obama at the end of his administration in December 2015 in the first US arms deal in four years.

Tsai presses US senator for more talks on arms sales for Taiwan

China’s campaign to undermine support for Taiwan continues apace, as Beijing leverages its influence in the North Korean nuclear issue to curb US support for Taiwan’s arms sales, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, during the House hearing.

Chambers recommended that Trump invite Taiwan to participate as a partner in the procurement process for the F-35 stealth fighter programme, while simultaneously integrating Taiwan industry into the fighter’s supply chain.

Dan Blumenthal, director of Asian studies at American Enterprise Institute, also called on the US Congress to “frame its legislative agenda” for Taiwan in ways that advantage the US’ strategic competition with China.

“The Taiwan defence budget would skyrocket if we put on offer the submarines, or the manned or unmanned aircrafts that Taiwan asks for,” Blumenthal told the hearing.