The United States hasn’t frozen sales of arms to Taiwan, but rather American officials are taking time to review the planned sale, according to a senior Taiwanese official.
There is "no freeze on arms sales to Taiwan," according to Wang Jin-pyng, speaker of the Taiwanese legislature. He spoke through an interpreter at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.
The U.S. "interagency review process is still going on," he said, adding that he is looking forward to completion of the review process.
But China strongly opposes U.S. sale of arms to Taiwan, spurring speculation that the United States might sidetrack the sale at least temporarily as a way to ingratiate Americans with China, or to avoid irking Chinese leaders until after the summer Olympics in Beijing, and at a time when the United States wishes Chinese assistance in dealing with North Korea.
Taiwan itself is attempting to curry favor with China for an airline flights deal.
Wang also downplayed any chances that Taiwan might turn to buying military wares from some other nation.
"Taiwan has always purchased weapons from the United States," he said, except for the acquisition of some aircraft from France in the early 1990s.
He said he respects the need of U.S. officials to review the planned Taiwanese purchase of $11 billion in hardware including Patriot missile defense batteries, submarines and more, plus a separate deal involving fighter aircraft.
China has vowed to invade Taiwan and take the island nation by force unless it submits voluntarily to rule by Beijing. Each year, China has added about 100 missiles to a current force of about 1,400 missiles aimed at the Taiwan Strait.
That massed missile force would imperil any U.S. Navy aircraft carrier force that might enter the Taiwan Strait to block any attempted Chinese invasion.