CHINA TOPIX

Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Trump Jeopardizes Taiwan’s Plan to buy F-35B Stealth Fighters

To Taiwan?

(Photo : USMC) An F-35B of VMFA-121, a U.S. Marines fighter squadron now based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.

Unthinking U.S. president Donald Trump, who in December 2016 pissed-off China by making a phone call to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, now says he won't do anything to "cause difficulty" for Chinese president Xi Jinping, in the process pouring cold water on Taiwan's forthcoming request to buy Northrop Grumman F-35 stealth fighters from the U.S.

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As expected, China reacted angrily to news of Taiwan's intent to buy the F-35s, against which it has no adequate defense. F-35s in the hands of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) will deny China the air superiority it needs for a successful amphibious assault of the Taiwan Strait and an invasion of Taiwan.

The fickle and vapid Trump on April 28 said he first wants to consult with Xi before speaking to Tsai. He said he doesn't want to "cause difficulty" for Xi by again dismissing the "One China" policy.

"He's a friend of mine. He's actually a -- I think he's doing an amazing job as a leader, and I wouldn't want to do anything that comes in the way of that. So, I would certainly want to speak to him first," said Trump.

That sterling example of splendid cowardice was immediately followed on the same day by a warning from China it's "adamantly opposed to selling weapons to Taiwan and there is no space for progress if unification by force is rejected."

President Tsai, however, remains optimistic about the prospects of acquiring F-35s and other U.S. weapons despite expected Chinese opposition.

"We will submit our request to the U.S. to purchase jets in July," said Wang Ting-yu, head of the Taiwanese legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee.

"We hope the U.S. understands our needs. Our fighter jets really are too old."

Taiwan specifically wants to purchase the F-35B, the version flown only by the U.S. Marine Corps. The F-35B is notable for its short/vertical take-off and landing (SVTOL) ability and its capability to land practically anywhere there's a flat land surface.

Taiwan will include an offer to buy the fifth generation F-35B -- considered the best stealth jet in the world and superior to China's "stealth" fighters -- in the first weapons purchase it will submit to the Trump administration.

"We hope we can get F-35s," said Wang. "We have been waiting for updated F-16s for too long. Their time has gone. If we buy them now, in 10 years' time they'll be no use."

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