Taipei: Taiwan said on Sunday it welcomed a push by nearly half the US Senate for the sale of dozens of F-16 fighters to the island in an arms deal Taipei said would help its dealings with China.
In a letter to President Barack Obama last week, 45 out of 100 US senators urged the administration to swiftly approve the sale of 66 F16-C/Ds to Taiwan as the fast-expanding Chinese forces tip the military balance in the region, the Foreign Ministry said.
“We`re pleased to see the bipartisan move in the US Senate,” Foreign Ministry spokesman James Chang said.
“The arms sale will help Taiwan boost its self-defence capabilities, thus giving it more leverage while engaging the Chinese mainland,” he said.
Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
Taiwan applied to the US government to buy 66 F-16 fighters in early 2007, but observers say Washington has held up the deal for fear of angering Beijing.