Delay in U.S. arms sale to Taiwan stirs concerns
Taiwanese officials maintain the postponement is motivated by a US desire to secure China's cooperation in tackling North Korea and Iran.
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Speaking in Taipei on Wednesday, Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy defense secretary in the Bush administration and current chairman of the board of the US-Taiwan Business Council, said that he thought President Bush was committed to selling arms to Taiwan and would do so before he left office, according to the Associated Press.Skip to next paragraph
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US foot-dragging on arms sales to the island comes amid a thaw in Taiwan-China relations under Taiwan's new, China-friendly president, Ma Ying-jeou. The Christian Science Monitor reported last month that since Mr. Ma took power on May 20, the two sides have moved rapidly to expand cross-strait links.
But Ma said that Taiwan still needs US help to defend itself against China, despite recently improved cross-strait relations, the Associated Press reports. He called recently for the US to remove the freeze.
The Financial Times cited top Taiwanese national security officials as saying that Taiwan was dropping its push for F-16s for now in order to focus on getting the other weapon systems approved. The report adds that Taipei officials believe the delay is motivated by the US's attempt to secure China's cooperation.
Pro-Taiwan commentators in the US have blasted the Bush administration for being soft on China. Writing in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Heritage Foundation's John Tkacik and the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy's Gary Schmitt said the US was shirking its obligation to defend Taiwan's democracy against the Chinese threat.