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No more US F-16 fighter jets for Taiwan
04:46 AM Aug 16, 2011
TAIPEI - The United States has refused Taiwan's request for 66 new F-16C/D fighter jets that China had warned would risk inflaming tensions between the two big powers, according to Defence News citing a Taiwan defence official.
Taiwan has repeatedly asked Washington to agree to sell the advanced F-16 fighter jets, citing the need to counter the growing military strength of China, which deems the island a breakaway province that must eventually accept reunification, by force if necessary. Neither Washington nor Taipei has made any formal announcement about the latest call for the fighters, but Defence News said on Sunday that Taiwan had been told there would be no sale, citing Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence.
"We are so disappointed in the United States," the report quoted an unnamed Taiwan defence official as saying.
"A US Department of Defence (DoD) delegation arrived here last week to deliver the news and offer instead a retrofit package for (Taiwan's) older F-16A/Bs," the journal reported from Taipei.
Any fresh US arms support to Taiwan is likely to raise hackles in Beijing, but the advanced fighter jets have been an especially touchy point for China, which this week will host US Vice-President Joe Biden.
The bitter debate in the US Congress over spending and the downgrade of the US sovereign credit rating by Standard & Poor's drew blunt criticism from China's state media, including a commentary that said the US debt woes reflected its military overreach abroad. Taiwan's Defence Ministry said it could not comment on the report, as it had not heard from the US.
"However, we want to point out that the Republic of China (Taiwan) does hope the sale of new F-16C/D fighter aircraft will go through. We are in urgent need of the aircraft," said spokesman Luo Shou He.
The US switched diplomatic recognition...
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