Insiders say the vice president is rarely called upon to do the heavy lifting for the Obama administration. Could this be the exception to the rule?
US Vice President Joe Biden, who is expected to embark on a state visit to China in the middle of next month, will provide assurances to Beijing that the US has no plans to sell Taiwan the F-16C/D aircraft it is seeking, reports said yesterday.
During his visit, Biden will explain why the US President Barack Obama’s administration, facing pressure from US Congress and required to meet its obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, would agree to upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of 144 F-16A/B aircraft, the Chinese-language news service DW News (多維新聞) reported, citing an unnamed “senior US official.”
However, Biden will reportedly tell his Chinese hosts that Washington has no plans to sell to Taiwan the 66 more advanced F-16C/D it has been seeking since 2006, the report said.
An official announcement on Washington’s decision not to release the F-16C/Ds and to proceed on the upgrade plan will be made in September, it said.
Contacted for comment, US-based officials knowledgeable about arms sales to Taiwan could not corroborate the information about Biden’s planned assurances, nor could the identity of the “senior official” be independently ascertained.
At press time, the Taipei Times was still awaiting a response from Biden’s office.
My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.