Senior House Democrat opposes Obama's decision on Taiwan F-16s

A senior House Democrat is raising concerns about President Obama’s decision to sell older F-16 fighters to Taiwan, calling it a “half-measure.” 

Obama reportedly decided last this week to move forward with a $6.4 billion arms package, but he opted against selling the island nation F-16C/Ds.

Those are the most technically advanced models of the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jet.

China, which is a key U.S. economic partner and holder of a considerable amount of U.S. debt, had raised objections about the sale.

“I’m deeply concerned that this is only a half-measure,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “Everyone, including this Administration, acknowledges that the military balance across the Straits has tilted far too heavily toward China.

“Taiwan needs more-advanced fighter aircraft to adequately defend itself against the continued and increasing Chinese military threat,” Berman said. “I hope that this decision is only the first step. The United States must sell additional fighter aircraft to Taipei, whether F-16s or better, and soon.” 

Administration officials began briefing lawmakers on the sale late Friday afternoon, a House source told The Hill.

Relations between China and Taiwan have warmed in recent years, but a recent Pentagon study concluded Beijing’s military force and strategy remain tailored for a war with its neighbor.

The arms package, as described earlier this year by administration officials, also includes Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and the F-16A/Bs.

Many in Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, have blasted the administration for opting against selling Taiwan the most advanced F-16s.

“Until Beijing renounces any use of force as a means of reunification, and agrees to respect the wishes of all the people of Taiwan,” Berman said, “the United States must continue to support fully Taiwan’s security.”