Tag Archive: congress

Admiral Harris – Commander, United States Pacific Command – Statement on Taiwan


Free and fair democratic elections in January on the island of Taiwan reflect shared values with the U.S. The U.S. maintains its unofficial relations with Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan and we continue supporting Taiwan’s security. USPACOM will continue to fulfill U.S. commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act; continued arms sales to Taiwan are an important part of that policy and help ensure the preservation of democratic government institutions.


Admiral Harry B. Harris, Jr., USN
Commander, United States Pacific Command
Statement to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hearing Details & Video
Admiral Harris’ Written Statement

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Benjamin L. Cardin & John McCain Letter to President Obama Regarding Arms Sales to Taiwan – November 19, 2015

Letter (PDF):

Benjamin L. Cardin & John McCain Letter to President Obama Regarding Arms Sales to Taiwan – November 19, 2015


Text of the letter:

November 19, 2015

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20515

Dear President Obama,

America’s long-standing commitment to Taiwan is a multifaceted and bipartisan effort that includes many components, all of which must be exercised as we seek to support and safeguard the ability of the people on Taiwan to determine their own future. One critical component is U.S. security assistance and arms sales to Taiwan to help modernize and build the capacity of its armed forces. We believe this support must be more robust.

While recent relations between Taiwan and China have been more encouraging, we remain concerned that China’s ongoing military modernization, and the threat it poses to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait, is not being adequately addressed. We recognize that a great deal of bilateral security cooperation is taking place between the United States and Taiwan, including more than $12 billion worth of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan since the start of your administration. These actions have been welcome. However, we are troubled that it has now been over four years – the longest period since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 – since the administration has notified Congress of a new arms sale package.

The United States must continue to further our interests in cross-Strait stability – a vital component of which is arms sales to Taiwan, pursuant to the Taiwan Relations Act – even when doing so brings short-term tensions in our relationship with China. The United States should develop and implement an ongoing plan for Taiwan’s military modernization, including how the administration plans to address Taiwan’s legitimate requirement for additional new manned fighters and submarines and other self-defense articles and services. Given some of the obstacles with the current approach, we believe that a regular and routine process for the provision of security assistance to Taiwan is essential.

Finally, we believe that it is equally important that Taiwan strive to meet President Ma Ying-jeou’s 2008 commitment to invest at least 3 percent of its annual gross domestic product on defense. We are increasingly concerned that, absent a change in defense spending, Taiwan’s military will continue to be under-resourced and unable to make the investments necessary to maintain a credible deterrent across the strait, especially as its limited defense resources are increasingly constrained by growing military personnel costs.

Consistent with the requirements of the Taiwan Relations Act, which call for regular consultations between the Executive Branch and Congress, we look forward to the opportunity to discuss together how best we can support and strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, including any arms sales under consideration or planned.


Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator

John McCain
United States Senator

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U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission – 2013 Annual Report to Congress

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) was “created by the United States Congress in October 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor, investigate, and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action.

On November 20, 2013, the USCC released its 2013 annual report to congress. Chapter 3, Section 2 of the report contains analysis on Taiwan, including discussions on cross-Strait relations, Taiwan’s role in the East and South China Sea disputes, and the status of U.S.-Taiwan relations. The report also contains extensive discussion on cross-Strait military and security issues.

Complete Report (PDF, 15MB)
Chapter 3, Section 2: Taiwan (PDF, 1.1MB)

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The US House of Representatives on Friday passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which calls on US President Barack Obama to sell no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole aircraft to Taiwan. While the amendment has no real power and must still be considered by the US Senate, it serves to pressure the White House and keep the F-16 issue on the agenda.
US House approves pro-Taiwan arms, diplomacy proposals

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US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan

The US–Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the vote in the House of Representatives approving Rep. Kay Granger’s amendment mandating selling no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan. The Granger amendment was attached to H.R.4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, and was included in a collection of non-controversial amendments that were packaged together and voted upon as a group.

“The bipartisan vote approving this amendment speaks to the tremendous support this sale enjoys in the House,” said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, President of the US-Taiwan Business Council. “The Taiwan Air Force is nearing an operational crisis point. Within five years more than half of Taiwan’s current fighter fleet will be retired, leaving fewer than 200 aircraft to defend the island. New F-16C/Ds would provide Taiwan – a strong and democratic ally – with the airframes they need to provide a credible deterrent to Chinese adventurism,” he said.

The House action comes on the heels of a White House letter to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), which recognized the urgency and severity of the burgeoning fighter gap between China and Taiwan. The letter stated that the Obama Administration is working on a near-term course of action to address the fighter shortfall, “including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.” The Administration has resisted the sale of new fighter aircraft to Taiwan, driven by unsupported concerns over retaliatory responses by China.

Hammond-Chambers commented that “The recent acknowledgement by the White House that Taiwan needs new fighters is a welcome and positive development. The threat from China is real, and we have seen report after report describing Beijing’s massive military buildup across the Taiwan Strait. New aircraft will add to Taiwan’s sense of security, and will allow Taipei to negotiate with China from a position of strength. The next phase of cross-Strait dynamics will require sophisticated, flexible, focused, and determined U.S. engagement and support for Taiwan, and it is absolutely essential that the Administration take the necessary steps to notify the sale of new F-16C/Ds to Congress. It is time to approve this sale and move forward.”

The total U.S. economic impact associated with the F-16 sale is estimated to be just over $17 billion. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, selling new F-16C/Ds to Taiwan would be protecting more than 87,000 person-years of work. “That’s a real shot-in-the-arm to a critical part of our defense base,” Hammond-Chambers said. “In addition, it would serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States. This is a ‘win-win’ for both Taiwan and the U.S.,” he added.

The NDAA has yet to be taken up by the United States Senate.


Press Note: US-Taiwan Business Council Lauds House Approval of Granger Amendment to the NDAA, Mandating Selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan (PDF file)

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Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales

Senator John Cornyn has lifted his hold on the Senate confirmation of Mark W. Lippert for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian & Pacific Security Affairs – the Pentagon’s top Asia official. The hold was lifted in exchange for a White House letter addressing Senator Cornyn’s concerns over Taiwan arms sales, and in particular the longstanding request from Taiwan to purchase new F-16 C/D aircraft. The White House letter included a commitment that forthcoming “near-term” solutions to Taiwan’s fighter shortfall will include new U.S.-made fighter aircraft. Mr. Lippert was confirmed by the Senate last night, before it recessed for a week.

In the letter, signed by White House Director of Legislative Affairs Robert L. Nabors, the Administration states that “We are mindful of and share your concerns about Taiwan’s growing shortfall in fighter aircraft – as the F-5s are retired from service and notwithstanding the upgrade of the F-16A/Bs. We recognize that China has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, while our democratic partner Taiwan has only 490. We are committed to assisting Taiwan in addressing the disparity in numbers of aircraft through our work with Taiwan’s defense ministry on its development of a comprehensive defense strategy vis-a-vis China.” In addition, the letter asserts that “the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the inter-agency and the Congress, will play a lead role as the Administration decides on a near-term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U.S.-made fighter aircraft.

The language in today’s White House letter differs significantly from the original Administration response to Senator Cornyn’s concerns. In a February 15 letter, the U.S. Department of Defense asserted that “we believe the F-16 A/B upgrade effectively meets Taiwan’s current needs.”

In a statement today, Senator Cornyn said “I commend the Administration for recognizing that our friend and ally Taiwan’s air force is woefully undersized and outgunned by Communist China, and their inability to adequately defend themselves poses a threat not just to their own security, but to that of the United States. I look forward to continuing to work hand-in-hand with the Administration and Taiwan as we move forward in this joint effort to ensure Taiwan has the new American-made fighter jets it needs to defend itself.

Senator Cornyn is not alone in expressing his concerns over U.S. efforts to support Taiwan’s legitimate requirement for a modern and fully capable air force. The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act – bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Cornyn and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), which would require the Obama Administration to sell no fewer than 66 new F 16C/D multirole fighter jets to Taiwan – may be considered in the House later this spring. The issue is continuing to attract attention because as the program to upgrade Taiwan’s 145 F-16 A/Bs begins, and in the absence of new F-16s C/Ds, Taiwan will have as few as 75 usable modern fighters at any given time between 2016-2022.

The US-Taiwan Business Council congratulates Mr. Lippert on his new position, where we look forward to working with him on Taiwan defense issues. The Council also urges the Administration to follow through on this newfound commitment to Taiwan’s defense by announcing the sale of new F-16 C/Ds to Taiwan. At a time when America needs every job it can generate, such a sale would mean more than $17 billion to the U.S. economy, and it would be protecting more than 87,000 jobs. It would also serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States.


Press Note: Senator Cornyn Releases Lippert Hold, White House Makes Concessions on Taiwan Arms Sales (PDF file)

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Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16C/Ds?

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the news that the Obama Administration will proceed with a commitment to upgrade Taiwan’s present inventory of F-16 A/Bs at a possible cost of US$5.3 billion, the continuation of the Luke Air Force Base training program at a potential cost of US$500 million, and a requisition for up to US$52 million in parts for Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs, F-5s, C-130s and IDFs. The congressional notifications are attached.

The Council welcomes the Obama Administration’s partial commitment to supporting Taiwan’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its air power capabilities. As we noted in our 2010 report “The Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait”, Taiwan certainly needs to implement a robust mid-life retrofit/modernization program for its existing fleet of F-16 A/Bs. The FMS programs notified to Congress today will help Taiwan address diminishing manufacturing sources and obsolescence issues, improve reliability and maintainability, improve survivability, and update aircraft capabilities to remain abreast of current mission requirements.

Upgraded F-16 A/Bs Are Not Enough to Face the Threat from China

A recent U.S. Department of Defense report states that “China has continued to develop a wide range of weapons and capabilities designed to provide credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” The report goes on to note that the military threat posed by China to Taiwan continues to grow rapidly.

The Taiwan Air Force is therefore in dire need of a robust and modern fighter fleet in order to prepare for all possible contingencies. The upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs will go some way towards moving the Taiwan Air Force in the right direction, if the upgraded fighters are equipped with modern systems and munitions.

However, with the Taiwan Air Force retiring its obsolete F-5s and prohibitively expensive Mirage 2000-5s, Taiwan will still fall perilously short of the airframes it requires to maintain an adequate air defense force, even with the scheduled upgrade. This shortfall is inherently destabilizing, and if not addressed it will threaten the military balance in the Taiwan Strait and encourage Chinese adventurism in the coming years.

Unnamed Obama Administration officials have been stating – as they did in the Wall Street Journal yesterday – “Taiwan gets them quicker and they are cheaper than C/Ds”.

This is a false statement. The upgrade program is comprehensive, but spans almost 10 years with the first upgraded A/B coming as late as the 6th year of the program. If the Obama Administration were to accept a Letter of Request for 66 F-16 C/Ds now, the entire tranche of new fighters could be delivered before Taiwan receives any of its upgraded F-16 A/Bs.

Secondly, the Obama Administration is suggesting that the choice was between either the F-16 A/B upgrade or the F-16 C/Ds. Again, this is a false choice. It is not either but both programs that are required. The correct approach would have both programs running sequentially, so that as new F-16 C/Ds are delivered to Taiwan – before Taiwan starts pulling front line F-16 A/Bs out of operations – there will be no degradation of Taiwan’s fighter strength. As presently structured, Taiwan will actually see a reduction in the number of operational F-16s over the next 10 years.

The solution to this shortfall is the sale of 66 F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan, as a follow up and in addition to the announced upgrade of Taiwan’s existing fleet of A/Bs. Together, these two programs would help Taiwan adequately fill the fighter gap, and would ensure that Taiwan has an air force capable of deterring China from provoking or attacking it. A fighter force able to handle all of Taiwan’s many contingencies.

The Council comments on Congressional Notifications for Taiwan Arms Sales:

Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16 A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16 C/Ds?

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US-Taiwan Business Council Urges Congress to Pass the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA)

The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA) was submitted today for Congressional review and passage by Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Robert Menendez of New Jersey. The object of the Act is to assist the Obama Administration in meeting the obligations encompassed in the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) – to provide Taiwan with weapons of a defensive nature to meet the growing threat from China. The TAMA would legislate selling 66 or more F-16 C/D fighter jets to Taiwan, and the US-Taiwan Business Council urges Congress to pass the Act.

The balance of power in the Taiwan Strait is an essential aspect of Americas’ Asia Pacific foreign policy. As China continues to invest heavily in expanding and modernizing its military capabilities, passage of the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act would provide Taiwan with badly needed replacement F-16 fighters, thereby bringing the U.S. government back into compliance with the TRA.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said that “TAMA will enjoy broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both chambers recently released letters in support of the F-16 C/D sale, with significant numbers of signatories from both parties. This strong Congressional support for the sale represents the foundation for TAMA, as well as a path to passage of the Act.”

Hammond-Chambers went on to note, “this Act and this sale is a win-win for the national security interests of both the United States and Taiwan, as the new fighters would address part of the airpower imbalance by modernizing Taiwan’s fighter fleet. The sale also plays a vital role for the United States, in expanding forward-deployed capacity building with a key Asia Pacific security partner.”


US-Taiwan Business Council Urges Congress to Pass the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA) (PDF file)

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181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Challenge President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the August 1, 2011 letter to President Barack Obama, where 181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives stated their belief that “it is critical for the United States to sell the government of Taiwan all the F-16 C/Ds it requires.” The letter strengthens and reinforces the corresponding message in a similar letter sent earlier this year by 47 members of the U.S. Senate.

The government of Taiwan has attempted to purchase 66 new F-16 C/D model fighters from the United States since 2006, but has found itself in the precarious position of the U.S. refusing to even consider the sale. These new fighters would replace Taiwan’s aging fleet of Vietnam War -era F-5s and Mirage 2000s, which are to be retired from active service in the coming decade.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has committed the Obama Administration to decide by October 1 what – if anything – the U.S. is prepared to do in order to help modernize Taiwan’s air force. That includes making a decision on providing replacement F-16 C/Ds, as well as on upgrading Taiwan’s 145 existing F-16 A/Bs.


181 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Challenge President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan (PDF file)
House Members’ August 1, 2011 Letter to President Obama on F-16s for Taiwan

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Senator Cornyn and Secretary Clinton Make Taiwan F-16 Deal

Secretary Clinton today informed Senator John Cornyn – who had been blocking the Senate confirmation of the Deputy Secretary of State nominee to motivate the Administration to accept Taiwan’s Letter of Request for new F-16s – that the Obama Administration would make a decision on the F-16 sale, as well as deliver a long delayed Taiwan Airpower Report, by October 1, 2011. On that basis, Senator Cornyn lifted his hold on the nomination of Bill Burns, and awaits the Administration’s announcement and its submission of the report.

While the US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the Obama Administration’s commitment to finally make a decision, we suspect that the outcome simply reiterates decisions already made, and therefore fails to address Taiwan’s central need – new combat aircraft to meet the growing threat from China.


Press Note: Senator Cornyn and Secretary Clinton Make Taiwan F-16 Deal (PDF file)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ustaiwandefense.com/senator-cornyn-and-secretary-clinton-make-taiwan-f-16-deal/

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