No major change expected in U.S. arms sale to Taiwan: ex-U.S. official

Washington, June 9 (CNA) A former U.S. defense official said on Friday that Washington's arms sale policy toward Taiwan is not expected to see major change under the administration of President Donald Trump.

In a discussion held at the Atlantic Council think tank, Abraham Denmark, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia in the Barack Obama administration, said it takes time for any new government to develop strategy and the Trump administration's overall strategy toward Taiwan still appears unclear at this point.

Denmark noted that Trump was very supportive of arms sales to Taiwan before he launched his presidential campaign, as evidenced by a tweet posted by Trump in 2011 in which he criticized Obama for not providing F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan.

Although it is unclear how Trump sees these issues now, Denmark said he did not expect to see major change in U.S. arms sale policy toward Taiwan.

He said remarks made by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the 2017 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, in which the Taiwan Relations Act was quoted, were very welcome and signaled that Taiwan is part of the United States' Asia strategy.

On Taiwan's intention to buy F-35 fighters from the United States, he said it is a "very complicated issue" that the two sides should work together to study.

Among the things that should be looked at are what kind of investment is needed in terms of infrastructure and support and how the deal fits in with Taiwan's broader defense budget planning, Denmark added.

He also said the relationship between the United States and Taiwan should be considered in a more comprehensive way, beyond arms sales and military exchanges, pointing out that there are a lot of other things the United States does with Taiwan, including trade and investment as well as seeking international space for Taiwan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel