US governor lobbies for sale of F-16's to Taiwan
CNAWASHINGTON -- Citing his state's dismal unemployment rate, Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, recently wrote to U.S. President Barack Obama asking the federal government to accept Taiwan's request to buy F-16 C/D jet fighters as soon as possible.
August 7, 2011, 11:11 pm TWN
“The sale and manufacturing of F-16 aircraft by Lockheed Martin supports hundreds of skilled jobs in Florida. The sale of these aircraft will save 477 direct jobs and 1,446 indirect jobs in Florida,” said Scott in the letter dated on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Expressing his deep concern with Florida's high unemployment rate, the governor reminded Obama that the closing of the Space Shuttle Program has killed many high-paying manufacturing jobs in Florida — home to the Kennedy Space Center.
He also cited the 2010 United States Defense Intelligence Agency's assessment on Taiwan defense capabilities that showed “a clear need for improved aircraft for Taiwanese defense.”
At the end of the letter, Scott made clear that although the unemployment rate in Florida is at its lowest point since 2009, 10.6 percent, or 980,000 out-of-work Floridians, is still too high.
“Approving this sale will help save jobs,” he said.
Taiwan made the request to Washington years ago for advanced fighters and an update to its aging F-16 fleet. However, the deal has long been shelved because of China's strong opposition, despite Taiwan's insistence that advanced defensive weapons are vital to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
Commenting on reports that the U.S. government will decide on whether to sell Taiwan F-16 C/Ds by Oct. 1, Taiwan's representative to the United States, Jason Yuan, said Friday that Washington will not fuss on issues like this.
In the U.S., arms deals are proposed by the president before delivery to Congress for approval.
“If Congress has no different opinions, it will pass the deal within 30 days. If it does not agree, then discussions will be raised within the 30 days,” Yuan said.
“There's no reason, nor necessity for the U.S. to say I will announce the decision on arms sales tomorrow. There is no such announcement,” said Yuan.
He explained that Oct. 1 is just the date when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will release a report at the Senate that assesses Taiwan and China's air force power.
Asked whether U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will talk with Chinese leaders on the arms sale to Taiwan during his upcoming visit to China, the de facto ambassador to the U.S. said Washington has already made clear that Biden will not touch on Taiwan-U.S. affairs during his Chinese stay.