Washington: A congressional panel on Thursday urged the United States to sell F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, the latest appeal for the weaponry the island says it needs to counter a rising China.
With no dissents, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted for a measure saying President Barack Obama “should take immediate steps to sell Taiwan all the F-16 fighter jets that are needed by Taiwan”, as well as submarines.
The text quotes a report last year from the US Defence Department stating that China was gaining in its military edge over Taiwan and developing the capability to ‘settle the dispute on Beijing's terms”.
The bill has little immediate effect as it was included as an amendment to a spending bill, one step in a long process in both houses of Congress to approve funding for the fiscal year that begins in October.
But the vote was the latest sign of restlessness in Congress over the weapons. In May, nearly half of the US Senate across party lines sent a joint letter urging the administration to approve the jet sales to Taiwan.
The United States last year approved USD 6.4 billion in weapons for Taiwan, including Patriot missiles and Black Hawk helicopters. But the administration did not include the F-16s and has said little since on the issue. Even without the jets, China lodged a strong protest and temporarily cut off military exchanges with the United States.
First Published: Friday, July 22, 2011, 11:24