(NationalSentinel)Â Foreign Policy: Despite the fact that the Pentagon and the State Department both signed off on a $1 billion arms deal for Taiwan in December – arms the island nation desperately needs to upgrade its military – the Obama White House blocked the sale on the way out the door, theÂ Washington Free Beacon reported.
The denial was a setback for the U.S. and Taiwan, both of whom are attempting to bolster regional defenses against an increasingly aggressive China.
WFB reported further that the Obama administration’s action coincided with a controversial phone call President-elect Donald J. Trump took from the president of Taiwan after his November election victory, though it wasn’t clear if the cancellation of the deal by the outgoing administration was tied to the call.
Nevertheless, the current administration is about to make things right:
The new Trump administration is now preparing to provide more and better defensive arms to Taiwan, said administration officials familiar with internal discussions of the arms sale.
The new arms package, however, is not expected to be made public until after Trump meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month. White House officials said the meeting is set for early April at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also will visit China later this month.
Taiwan is expected to be a major topic of discussion for both the summit and Tillerson’s visit.
The bulk of the arms package included upgrades for Taiwan’s fleet of 1980’s-era F-16 fighters, along with missiles,Â communications, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance gear that would bolster the Taiwan military’s command and control systems.
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“There’s a process for these things that’s being followed,” a White House official told WFBÂ Â of the arms package. “The Trump administration takes America’s commitment to Taiwan’s security very seriously.”
As it should. Many experts see a rising RussiaÂ as much more of a security challenge for the United States moving forward than China. Nevertheless,Â clearly the U.S. needs to reaffirm its commitment to regional Asian allies shaken by years of neglect by the Obama administration, which regularly deferred to Chinese interests and did little to counter the Asian giant’s aggression in the South China Sea.