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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 TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster 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 PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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 RischJim Elroy RischSenate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Iran's presidential election puts new pressure on US nuclear talks GOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning MORE (R-Idaho) said in a statement Friday.

And House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDemocrats call on Blinken to set new sexual misconduct policies at State Department Lawmakers on hot mic joke 'aisle hog' Engel absent from Biden address: 'He'd wait all day' Bowman to deliver progressive response to Biden's speech to Congress MORE (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSullivan says US preparing more Russia sanctions over Navalny House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq war powers GOP lawmakers urge Biden to add sanctions on Russia over Navalny poisoning 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.”