Trump moves forward with $8 billion F-16 sale to Taiwan

Trump moves forward with $8 billion F-16 sale to Taiwan
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The Trump administration on Tuesday formally notified Congress of a potential $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a deal that China fiercely opposes.

Details of the sale, posted to the website of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, includes 66 F-16C/D aircraft, spares and related equipment.

The administration’s decision to move ahead with the sale is likely to infuriate China at a time when President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer employees critique EPA under Trump in new report Fired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Virginia senator calls for Barr to resign over order to clear protests MORE is hoping to secure a trade agreement with Beijing.

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Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of China — objecting to past U.S. arms sales to the island state — though Taiwan is largely self-governing.

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe 7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports MORE on Monday seemed to downplay the sale, saying that it is “deeply consistent with the arrangements, the historical relationship between the United States and China.”

"Our actions are consistent with past U.S. policy. We are simply following through on the commitments we’ve made to all of the parties,” he said during a Fox News interview.

The deal still must be approved by Congress, though there is unlikely to be any pushback. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been pushing Trump to approve the sale, worrying that it was being delayed as a bargaining chip in the president’s trade negotiations with China.

“These fighters are critical to improving Taiwan’s ability to defend its sovereign airspace, which is under increasing pressure from the People’s Republic of China,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischDemocrat Paulette Jordan to face incumbent Jim Risch in Idaho Senate race Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers demand answers on Chinese COVID hacks | Biden re-ups criticism of Amazon | House Dem bill seeks to limit microtargeting Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE (R-Idaho) said in a statement Friday.

And House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOusted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe Ocasio-Cortez endorses Engel primary challenger Engel presses to speak at NY event: 'If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care' MORE (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOusted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe US to slap restrictions on more Chinese media outlets: report Top GOP lawmakers invite Blue Dogs to meet with China Task Force MORE (R-Texas) said in a joint statement that the sale will send a “strong message about the U.S. commitment to security and democracy in the Indo-Pacific.”

The U.S. government has not sold new fighter jets to Taiwan since the George H.W. Bush administration.

The Obama administration avoided approving the request for new F-16s, instead opting to upgrade existing Taiwanese aircraft, as selling the island state new aircraft is seen as particularly infuriating to China.

But the Trump administration, eager to boost U.S. foreign military sales, has hoped to increase its deals and last month approved a $2 billion sale to the island for 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and other equipment.

That deal prompted China’s foreign ministry to warn that the U.S. was “playing with fire.”