WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supports the Taiwan Relations Act and is opposed to President Barack Obama’s stance of not selling Taiwan advanced F-16C/D jet fighters, said Romney’s foreign policy adviser Richard Williamson Tuesday.
Romney has spelled out his opposition to Obama’s decision on the arms sale to Taiwan, Williamson said in response to media inquiries at a conference on the future of American national security policy in Tampa, Florida, where the Republican Party is holding its national convention.
Williamson said Romney is familiar with and supports the Taiwan Relations Act, which was passed by the United States Congress in 1979 to lay the basis for a continuing relationship with Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China.
Former Republican Senator Jim Talent said Romney backs the act and related arm sales projects because the Taiwan Relations Act has been in effect for decades and it advocates resolving disputes through peaceful means.
Taiwan has long lobbied for the United States to sell it advanced F-16C/D fighters to bolster its aging fleet, especially as China expands the quality and size of its Air Force.
Though never directly rejected Taiwan’s request, the Obama administration agreed instead to sell Taiwan a multibillion-dollar package of equipment to retrofit its older fleet of F-16A/B fighters.
John Chiang, a vice chairman of Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang, applauded Romney’s stance on arm sales to Taiwan, calling it “good news.”
In its 2012 party platform passed Tuesday, the Republican Party clearly said if China were to try to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. would help Taiwan defend itself.
The Republicans described Taiwan in the platform as “a sound democracy and economic model for mainland China.”
“We oppose any unilateral steps by either side to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait on the principle that all issues regarding the island’s future must be resolved peacefully, through dialogue, and be agreeable to the people of Taiwan.
“If China were to violate those principles, the U.S. in accord with the Taiwan Relations Act, will help Taiwan defend itself,” the party said, praising steps taken by Taiwan and China in recent years to reduce tensions and strengthen economic ties.
It also voiced support for Taiwan’s bids for free trade agreements, the timely sale of defensive arms, and full participation in the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization and other multilateral institutions.