After the Obama administration announced a plan to help Taiwan upgrade its F-16 fighter jets, Beijing was quick to respond. From the Washington Post:
A statement Thursday on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website, and an article on the website of Xinhua, the official news agency here, said China’s Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun summoned U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke to lodge a “strong protest.” Xinhua said China’s ambassador in Washington, Zhang Yesui, also lodged a protest.
“The wrongdoing by the U.S. side will inevitably undermine bilateral relations as well as exchanges and cooperation in military and security areas,” Zhang Zhijun reportedly told Locke, according to the Xinhua report.
“China strongly urges the United States to be fully aware of the high sensitivity and serious harm of the issue, seriously treat the solemn stance of China, honor its commitment and immediately cancel the wrong decision,” the vice foreign minister told Locke, according to the report.
“The new round of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, no matter in what excuses and reasons, cannot hide the intention of interfering in China’s internal affairs and will send very wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces, and will severely disturb the momentum of peaceful development in cross-Strait relations,” the vice foreign minister said.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Republicans believed that Obama’s decision not to sell new F-16s to Taiwan in fact indicated a “capitulation” to China. AP reports:
Political opponents quickly pounced on the decision. Republican Sen. John Cornyn from Texas, where the new F-16 planes would be built, declared it a “capitulation” to China that should be met with concern by U.S. allies everywhere. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared it a show of “weak leadership in foreign policy.”
Seven senators led by Cornyn — two of them Democrats — have introduced legislation seeking to mandate the sales of the 66 F-16 C/D planes. A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives but it still faces many hurdles before making it into law.
The administration has hedged its bets by agreeing for now only to upgrade the 145 F-16 A/B fighter jets that Taiwan bought from the U.S. in the 1990s. Those planes remain the backbone of its air power, which is now dwarfed by the mainland’s.