Sunday, November 8, 2009

White House official: U.S. policy on arms sales to Taiwan has not changed



President Barack Obama, set for a mission to China this month to boost warming ties, will stay firm on the US policy of supporting but not recognizing rival Taiwan, an aide said Friday.Jeff Bader, the East Asia director on the White House's National Security Council, stayed coy on whether Washington would soon authorize more weapons to Taipei, saying only, "Our policy on arms sales to Taiwan has not changed."

Bader welcomed the easing of tensions with China since Taiwan last year elected Beijing-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou but said it was not a reason to change US policy."This is an area where we have a tried and true basis for a stable relationship and we're not going to tamper with that," Bader said.

He said US policy was guided by the Three Communiques -- under which the United States recognized Beijing as China's sole government -- as well as the Taiwan Relations Act, in which Congress required the United States to provide the island weapons of a defensive nature."That framework is unalterable. We're not going to touch it. There will be nothing we say or do on the trip that will go in different directions," he said.

China's defeated nationalists fled to Taiwan after losing the civil war in 1949. Communist China considers the island a province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.Ma, who ended two decades of rule by leaders who sought a more separate Taiwanese identity, has stepped up relations with China including by promoting trade and tourism.

But Ma has also appealed to Washington to sell arms, including F-16 jet fighters, to modernize Taiwan's aging military.The Obama administration has given signals publicly on the sale. China snapped off military exchanges after former president George W. Bush last year proposed a 6.5 billion-dollar arms package to Taiwan which did not include the F-16 planes.

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