MOFA refutes claims Trump put hold on F-16 fighter jet sale to Taiwan

The ministry denies Washington has halted the sale while a trade deal is negotiated with China

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F-16V fighter jet (image by lockheedmartin.com)

F-16V fighter jet (image by lockheedmartin.com)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) denies that U.S. President Donald Trump has temporarily shelved plans to sell Taiwan F16-V fighter jets until a trade deal is agreed with China.

Three Washington officials told TIME Magazine Thursday (April 6) that the sale will be put on hold, although Taiwan officials are confident it will go through once the U.S. and China seal an agreement.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense applied to buy 66 F16-V fighter jets at the recommendation of the U.S. government on February 27. The sale would be the first time Taiwan has bought F-16s from the U.S. since 1992.

The U.S. National Defense Authorization Act stipulates the Secretary of Defense must respond to a request for defense articles within 120 days.

MOFA spokesperson Li Hsian-chang (李憲章) told CNA the ministry has maintained close contact with relevant U.S. authorities since initiating its request. The U.S. is conducting a review, and the application has not been shelved, said Li.

Taiwan and the U.S. are close allies, Li said, and Washington has time and again reaffirmed its commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act since Trump came into office.

Li stressed that China’s recent invasion of Taiwan’s airspace emphasizes the need to upgrade Taiwan’s air force capacity. The ministry is committed to deepening partnership with the U.S. to preserve peace and safety in the Asia-Pacific region, he added.

The Ministry of Defense echoed MOFA, saying the TIME Magazine report was not based on facts.