As tensions rise between Taiwan and China, two senior U.S. Republican senators requested from President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday to approve a sale of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets, saying it is necessary for the island to “remain a democracy” as threats from China become more and more serious.
“These fighters will have a positive impact on Taiwan’s self-defense and would act as a necessary deterrent to China’s aggressive military posture across the Asia-Pacific region,” Senators John Cornyn, the assistant majority leader, and James Inhofe, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said in a letter to President Trump.
“After years of military modernization, China shows the ability to wage war against Taiwan for the first time since the 1950s,” they wrote. “However, with your leadership, it is possible to help Taiwan remain a democracy, free to establish a relationship with China that is not driven by military coercion.”
However, the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Reuters, the sale of the jets could fuel the growing tensions with Beijing, where officials were infuriated when President Trump signed legislation this month that encourages the United States to send senior officials to Taiwan to meet Taiwanese counterparts and vice versa.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military has put countering China and Russia influences at the center of Trump’s new national defense strategy which was announced by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in January.
The F-35 fighter jets are in some way becoming popular among U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific region, where Singapore is also interested in purchasing a squadron of F-35 which are considered to be one of the most advanced stealth jet fighters in the world.
Lockheed hit their 2017 target to deliver 66 F-35 fighter jets to the United States and its allies last year.