CHINA / Taiwan, HK, Macao

US said to sell Taiwan 66 fighter jets
Updated: 2006-07-18 09:12

The United States has agreed to sell Taiwan 66 advanced fighter jets for some 100 billion Taiwan dollars, it was reported.

A Taiwan delegation proposed the procurement of the fleet of F-16C/D fighters during an annual military meeting with Washington early this month, the China Times said.

"The United States has given its nod over the sales of 66 F-16C/D Block 52s for at least 100 billion Taiwan dollars (US$3.1 billion)," the paper said, without naming a source.

If the report is confirmed, it would be the biggest arms deal Washington has offered Taiwan since 2001 when US President George W. Bush agreed to provide the island with eight diesel-powered submarines, 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft and an improved version of Patriot missiles, the paper said.

Taiwan authorities declined to comment on the report.

The United States in 1992 agreed to sell Taiwan 150 less sophisticated F-16A/Bs, but refused to provide F-16C/Ds which have a longer range and powerful ground attack capability.

Beijing has repeatedly urged Washington to stop selling advanced weapons to Taiwan to ensure peace and stability across the Straits.

The United States should "cease the sale of advanced weapons to Taiwan and military exchanges (with the island)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a regularly scheduled news briefing in Beijing on May 11, 2006.

Liu said China demands the US abide by the "three joint communiqus" and promote stability in the Taiwan Straits. The three documents are the political basis for Sino-US relations.