Obama to propose $6-bln arms sales to Taiwan for first time

The Obama administration was set to notify the U.S. Congress of its first proposed arms sales to Taiwan.

Obama to propose $6-bln arms sales to Taiwan for first time

The Obama administration was set to notify the U.S. Congress on Friday of its first proposed arms sales to Taiwan, a roughly $6 billion package bound to anger Beijing and add to rising U.S.-China strains.

U.S. officials said the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency was proposing to sell Taiwan UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot "Advanced Capability" missile defenses known as PAC-3 and a command and control program operations deal.

China regards self-ruled, democratic Taiwan as a wayward offshore province subject to unification with the communist-run mainland, by force if necessary.

The United States, Taiwan's main arms supplier, is mandated under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to aid Taiwan's self-defense. The law was enacted when Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taipei.

Senior Obama administration officials were to hold a background teleconference at 2:05 p.m. (1905 GMT) to discuss East Asian security, the State Department's press office said, without drawing a link to the expected Taiwan arms notification.

The arms sales announcement may contribute to what is expected to be a rocky 2010 in bilateral ties. Washington and Beijing have tangled over trade, cyber hacking of the U.S. search engine Google Inc, Tibet and human rights.

Economic relations -- the main glue that has bound together the United States and its rising rival -- are strained over what U.S. critics call "mercantilist" Chinese policies designed to ramp up exports amid the global economic slowdown.

China is accused of widespread theft of U.S. investors' intellectual property, policies that keep its currency undervalued to make its exports cheap and promoting import substitution measures that disadvantage foreign manufacturers.

Beijing in turn has chafed at Obama administration decisions in 2009 and this year to slap tariffs on Chinese tires and steel products. Chinese state media have condemned Google for its threat to quit the Chinese market because of cyber attacks from China and government-mandated censorship.

China usually responds to U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan with sharply worded diplomatic protests. Beijing underscores its anger by freezing military-to-military relations -- contacts desired by Washington to build confidence and avoid accidental clashes.

China suspended military-to-military contacts with the United States after then President George W. Bush notified Congress in October 2008 of plans to sell Taiwan a long-delayed arms package valued at up to $6.4 billion.

The value of the sales due to be notified to Congress on Friday would be about $6 billion, if all options are exercised, officials said on condition they not be identified.

Reuters

Last Mod: 30 Ocak 2010, 11:18
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