The Trump administration is preparing a new weapons package for Taiwan that will include “more and better defensive arms,” according to a U.S. report Tuesday.
The package will likely be publicized only after U.S. President Donald Trump meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month.
The report, published by the conservative Washington Free Beacon, said Taiwan would likely be a topic of discussion between the two leaders in their meeting as well as when U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Beijing later this month.
“The Trump administration takes America’s commitment to Taiwan’s security very seriously,” a White House official was quoted as saying.
The report also said that the Obama administration had blocked a US$1 billion arms sale to Taiwan despite approval from both the Pentagon and the State Department.
The nixed deal included modernization of existing F-16 fighter jets and accompanying missiles as well as possibly communications, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.
The report cited a former Obama administration spokesman as saying that the sale was held up because “we thought it would be a useful package for the next administration to pursue in their time.”
Another former State Department official called the failure to release the arms package last December “a mistake” and said that Obama administration officials in charge of Asia policy may have been “unhappy with Trump’s tough posture toward Beijing.” He characterized those officials as having given “the Chinese free reign in Asia.”
Trump will reportedly meet Xi in Florida in early April for a two-day summit.
The State Department, Pentagon and Taipei’s representative office in Washington have refused to comment on the reported arms package.