TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Trump administration notified the United States Congress late Thursday (August 15) that it wanted to submit the US$8 billion (NT$250 billion) sale of 66 F-16V fighter jets to Taiwan for formal review, The Washington Post reported.
The State Department told Congress the case would be submitted informally by Friday (August 16) evening, according to two of the newspaper's sources.
The news of progress on the deal follows doubts that it would move ahead while the U.S. and China were still working to resolve their trade dispute. Skeptical members of Congress had voiced the possibility that the Trump administration might try to use the jets as bargaining chips to resolve the trade war.
In Congress, the arms package will be reviewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “They are not expected to raise objections," The Washington Post noted.
The paper quoted Bonnie Glaser, senior Asia adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying a decision on the F-16V deal would not “trigger a crisis” in the U.S.-China relationship and would not jeopardize any progress on trade.
What might be different is that Beijing follows through on its threat to slap sanctions on U.S. firms involved in the deal, Glaser said.