(TELESUR) – The United States State Department has approved a US$8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Tuesday in an official notification to Congress.
The sale of 66 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16V jets, 75 General Electric engines, as well as other systems to the island would be the largest single arms package transactions between the United States and Taiwan, a move that will certainly affect the tense and fragile diplomatic relations between China and the U.S.
Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the U.S. side has seriously violated the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint statements, adding that it has interfered in China’s internal affairs and undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests.
Hua urged the U.S. to stop military contact and arms sales to Taiwan, otherwise, she warned, the Chinese government will “take countermeasures and the U.S. will be responsible for all related consequences.”
After the State Department gave an informal notification of the sale on Aug. 15 to the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it had to wait for their approval which it received on Friday.
Now with the official notification sent, the department has to wait for 30 days for any objections. Congress is not expected to object or impede the sale.
Both Republican and Democratic leading lawmakers, such as Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, and the panel’s ranking Republican, Michael McCaul said in a joint statement that the deal “sends a strong message.” While other legislators across the aisle issued statements backing the sale.
On July 9, China’s foreign ministry called on the U.S. to withdraw another potential US$2.2 billion arms sales of tanks and missiles to Taiwan, saying it strongly opposes the action.
If the U.S. proceeds with the intended sale, it would open a third diplomatic and political confrontation against China, the first related to the trade war and second over Hong Kong. Matters that the Chinese will not take lightly as they have warned before for the U.S. to stop meddling in internal affairs of the Asian nation.
Meanwhile, Chinese and U.S. negotiating teams intensify trade consultations at the work level they prepare for the 13th round of chief trade negotiators which will restart in September, hoping to reach a trade deal.
Trump administration economic adviser Larry Kudlow said trade deputies from the two countries would speak within 10 days and “if those deputies meetings pan out…we are planning to have China come to the USA” to advance negotiations over ending a trade battle that has emerged as a potential risk to global economic growth.