Taipei The U.S. sale of F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan has not been put on hold, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said on Saturday, refuting a claim in a U.S. media report that the Trump Administration has temporarily set aside the arms sale in order to reach a trade deal with China.
MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (???) told CNA that Taiwan had maintained close communications with the U.S. after the Letter of Request for the purchase of F-16V fighter jets was submitted to the U.S.
Lee said the U.S. was now conducting the review procedures and "the sale had not been shelved."
MOFA's comments came in response to Time magazine's report on Friday saying that the U.S. has shelved the Taiwan arms sale until a trade deal with China is sealed, citing three anonymous Administration officials.
Time magazine's report said the White House's initial decision reported in late March to offer tacit approval for Taiwan to buy 60 Lockheed Martin F-16V fighter jets was widely seen as a U.S. show of strength against China.
But the decision to delay approval of the sale has contributed to concern among some in the Administration that Trump may go soft on China in his desire to secure a trade deal, according to Time.
It cited the U.S. officials as saying that the draft trade agreement currently under negotiation would boost Trump's political fortunes and ease the jittery stock market, but it is unlikely to address many of the issues at the core of the U.S.-China trade dispute.
Congress must also approve of any arms sales to Taiwan, and the Administration has yet to submit that request to lawmakers, the magazine reported.
The State Department, which opposed the proposed arms sale, has also called for an interagency meeting to determine whether the U.S. can sell Taiwan M1 tanks, Time cited an Administration official as saying.
Taiwan's MOFA spokesman Lee, however, said the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. has been close and cordial.
Since President Trump's inauguration, Lee said, the U.S. has sold arms to Taiwan twice, demonstrating its firm support for Taiwan's security.
High ranking U.S. officials also have publicly reiterated their support of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), he added.
Signed into law on April 10, 1979, following the switch of recognition from Taipei to Beijing by the U.S., the TRA authorizes Washington to provide Taiwan with defensive arms.
Echoing MOFA's comment, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said the Time magazine report was not based on facts, adding that U.S. arm sales to Taiwan was in accordance with the TRA and the"six assurances."
The"six assurances"were issued by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, stipulating that the U.S. would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan; alter the terms of the TRA; consult with China in advance before making decisions about arms sales to Taiwan; mediate between Taiwan and China; alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China; or formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
Asked about the issue, the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto U.S. embassy on the island, said it does not comment on proposed arms sales.
"We only comment after they have been notified to Congress."
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel