The U.S. government is close to announcing that it will sell about $1 billion worth of military equipment to Taiwan, the first new sale in more than four years. The sale is likely to cause a rift in Washington’s relationship with Beijing, which opposes any military support for Taipei.
The Obama administration hasn't decided when to notify Congress about the pending sale, one U.S. official told me. The administration is bracing for a strong negative reaction from the Chinese Communist Party, which considers Taiwan a renegade province and has opposed U.S. arms sales to Taiwan for decades. Owing to that, the sale could be formally announced after mid-December, following the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, officials said. Also, the U.S. government wants to allow a sufficient interval before Taiwan’s upcoming election in mid-January.
On Capitol Hill, leaders in both parties have been prodding the administration to follow through with the sale, despite the risks of tension with China. Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking Democrat Ben Cardin and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain wrote to President Obama last week to press him on the issue.