TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration blocked a $1 billion arms sale to Taiwan even though the State Department and Pentagon approved it, according to Trump administration officials reported by The Washington Free Beacon.
The arms sale, which was needed to boost Taiwan’s defenses, was set for release to Taiwan but was blocked by National Security Council staff officials in December, other officials said in the Free Beacon report.
The Trump administration is now working to provide “more and better defensive arms” for Taiwan, while the officials familiar with the matter said they do not expect the new arms package to be made public until after Trump’s meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping early next month for a two-day summit.
"There's a process for these things that's being followed," a White House official was quoted as saying in the Beacon report. "The Trump administration takes America's commitment to Taiwan's security very seriously."
Former Obama administration spokesman Ned Price confirmed in the report that the administration blocked the arms sale, while saying that it was not a unilateral decision.
"In consultation with State and DoD, the Obama administration decided not to move forward with it in the final days of the administration," Price said in the report, adding that "we thought it would be a useful package for the next administration to pursue in their time because it was well-calibrated to strike the balance we typically try to achieve consistent with our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act."
John Tkacik, former State Department official, called it “a mistake” that the Obama administration failed to release the arms package, and said the officials in charge of Asia policy may have been “unhappy with Trump's tough posture toward Beijing.”