McCain Presses Bush To Sell F-16s To Taiwan

As Congress considers administration requests to sell more than $6 billion in military equipment to Taiwan, Republican presidential candidate John McCain wants to add more submarines and new fighter jets to the package.

The administration wants Taiwan to sell 330 Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles and 30 Apache Block III Longbow Attack helicopters. But it did not agree to sell all of the weapons Taiwan had asked for – specifically new F-16 fighter jets, McCain said in a statement.

“The package will not include submarines or new F-16 aircraft. I urge the administration to reconsider this decision, in light of its previous commitment to provide submarines and America's previous sales of F-16s,” McCain said. “These sales – which could translate into tens of thousands of jobs here at home – would help retain America’s edge in the production of advanced weaponry and represent a positive sign in these difficult economic times.”

The United States should work to improve relations between China and Taiwan, McCain added. But “we should understand that the possibility of productive ties between Taiwan and China are enhanced, not diminished, when Taipei speaks from a position of strength.”

McCain’s statement comes just after China canceled senior level visits to the United States in response to reports of the weapons sales.

“The Chinese reaction is unfortunate and results in missed opportunities,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton said in a statement. “While we are disappointed not to have these opportunities to learn more about the Chinese military's plans and intentions, we remain ready to engage with the Chinese to build mutual trust and confidence to the degree that the Chinese are willing to work with us.”