US 'correct’ to sell Taiwan fighter jets

A former White House advisor says US must fulfill terms of Taiwan Relations Act and sell F-16Vs to Taiwan

Dennis Wilder at the Brookings Institution.

Dennis Wilder at the Brookings Institution. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Selling Taiwan F-16V fighter jets is the “correct decision” in view of China’s increasing military might, said a former White House advisor on Monday (April 22).

Dennis Wilder, now a visiting fellow of Washington think tank the Brookings Institution, said the U.S. ought to sell Taiwan F-16Vs. The sale would be in keeping with its promise, outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), to help Taiwan maintain a sufficient self-defense capability, he said.

Wilder made the comments at a Brookings Institution forum to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the TRA on Monday.

China has changed its attitude, Wilder said, and this can be seen in its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. He expressed concerns that Beijing could similarly adjust its policy towards Taiwan in the future.

Wilder said the U.S. must think comprehensively about Taiwan’s ability to block threats from across the Taiwan Strait. He said it is important to make adequate preparations, especially since China’s military is becoming ever more powerful.

The Trump administration’s message to Taiwan is still confusing, he said in an interview after the conference. It should clarify its policy toward Taiwan as soon as possible.

Former U.S. assistant secretary of defense for the Asia Pacific David Shear said the jet sales would meet the needs of Taiwan’s military. The U.S. is also encouraging Taiwan to develop asymmetrical defense mechanisms to face challenges from China, he said.

Many current Taiwan issues will become of global concern following next year’s general election, said Wilder. Trump must assert his view on Taiwan more clearly, he added.