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The United States recently announced it would not sell Taiwan new F-16 fighter jets. Instead the Obama administration has offered an upgrade package for Taiwan's fleet of older F-16s. But Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou is not giving up—emphasizing that Chinese communist forces still pose a threat to Taiwan. On his visit to the island, former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld gave the impression that a new fleet of F-16s may not be completely off the cards.
Since President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in Taiwan in 2008, his administration has been requesting to buy 66 F-16 C/D fighter jets from the United States—Taiwan's only arms supplier.
So far, the answer has been no, with the US recently announcing it will upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of 146 F-16 A/Bs as part of a 5.8-billion dollar arms package.
But President Ma is not giving up. In a speech on the Republic of China's national day, he emphasized the threat Chinese communist forces still pose to Taiwan. On Tuesday, Ma received former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in Taiwan for the National Day celebrations. He clarified again his stance that Taiwan still wants to buy the more advanced F-16 C/D model.
[Ma Ying-jeou, President, Republic of China (Taiwan)]:
"Our fleet of F5 E series fighter jets are already old, so we must replace them. We still hope the US will sell us the F-16 C/D fighter jet. Our motive is not to use them for any kind of attack, but still just to protect Taiwan."
According to a report by Washington-based political news paper 'The Hill,' the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office—Taiwan's de facto embassy in Washington—has been employing at least nine lobbying firms and law firms to persuade US lawmakers to support the sale, spending over $1-million in lobbying fees this year.