Background Briefing on the Subject of Taiwan
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is with regard to Taiwan and the question of a U.S. decision one way or the other, which as you know, has not yet been formally notified to Congress with regard to the sale of F-16s. Our view is that something has gotten lost in translation in the last couple of days on this issue.
First, the U.S. is profoundly committed to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and that commitment remains unwavering. Second, the scale and pace of defense article sales to Taiwan over the past two and a half years is unprecedented. And you’ll find this a bit awkward, but given the fact that we haven’t formally notified Congress, we are only working today off of reports leaked about a proposed refurbishment of F-16s. So I will base my comments on those assuming that those leaks are true. But of course, I can’t confirm them until after formal congressional notification this week.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I know. I know.
QUESTION: It’s just -- this is -- this is (inaudible).
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: This is on background.
QUESTION: Wait a second. But -- oh, all right. Go ahead and do it. And then I can raise my objection.
QUESTION: One factual question, later this week means when? Do you have a date?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I do not, but it’s before the end of the week. Assuming – so let me start this again.
Assuming the reports leaked about the proposal to refurbish F-16s are true – and that obviously can’t be confirmed even on background until a formal congressional notification later this week – weapons sales to Taiwan since 2009 will be greater than in the previous four years, and they will be double the sales that occurred between 2004 and 2008.
And assuming the decision is to upgrade F-16 A/B, they will provide essentially the same quality as new F-16 C/D aircraft at a far cheaper price. And Taiwan would stand to get 145 A/Bs versus only 66 C/Ds. And we’re obviously prepared to consider further sales in the future.
In addition, the Administration has taken strong steps to deepen relations with Taiwan in concrete ways beyond this dossier, including Visa Waiver Program, education initiatives, trade and energy initiatives, and helping Taiwan to have more access to international fora like the World Health Organization.