Saturday, June 25, 2011

US senator ups ante on stalled F-16 sale

A curveball by the senator from Texas could force the hand of an Obama administration that has been loath to anger Beijing over arms sales to Taiwan

In a surprising turn of events over US arms sales to Taiwan, a US senator said he would use his powers to block a full Senate vote on the appointment of a new deputy secretary of state until Washington approves the sale of F-16C/D aircraft requested by Taipei.

US Senator for Texas John Cornyn, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said the US Department of State must inform Taipei that it would act on a formal Letter of Request (LOR) from the Taiwanese government to purchase 66 new F-16C/Ds. Should Washington fail to do so, Cornyn said he would use his powers to block a full Senate vote on the nomination of William Burns, currently US undersecretary of state for political affairs, as deputy secretary of state, the Washington Times reported on Wednesday, citing information from Senate aides.

Cornyn’s threatened hold also applies to the release by the Pentagon of a long-delayed report to Congress on the balance of air power in the Taiwan Strait.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here with comments by Rupert Hammond Chambers and Joseph Wu.

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