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September 22, 2017

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MOFA thanks US support for Taiwan's TPP bid

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan expressed gratitude over the comments made by a senior United States official on Friday who voiced the U.S.' support for the nation's ongoing push to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and pledged Washington will continue to help Taipei defend itself.

In a released statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the R.O.C. Government thanks the comments made by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific Kin Moy at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing held Friday.

While testifying during the hearing hosted by Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California), Moy said the U.S. welcomes Taiwan's interest in membership in the TPP.

"We are in ongoing negotiations on TPP, and ... perhaps it's best if we move toward conclusion on those negotiations before we discuss additional membership," he said when testifying before the committee.

"We have heard from Taiwan as well as others about interest in TPP and ... we are willing to definitely consider — along with some countries that have approached us most recently, we are willing to discuss TPP in the future," he said in response to questions posed by Royce.

Meanwhile, asked to comment on if the U.S. budget cuts could affect the planned upgrades of Taiwan's F-16 fleet, the senior American official reiterated Washington's commitment to meet Taiwan's self-defensive needs.

US Commits to F-16 Upgrades

"Potential cuts in U.S. Air Force (USAF) funding for the CAPES program will not negatively impact the Taiwan F-16 retrofit program," said Moy.

"We certainly are committed to the F-16 retrofit program," he said in response to questions raised by Royce.

Earlier this year, the U.S-based Defense News alleged that the U.S. Air Force plans to defund the CAPES, or combat avionics programmed extension suite program, which would upgrade U.S. and Taiwanese F-16 fighter jets with top-of-the-line avionics.

The decision has raised some doubt on the retrofit program for Taiwan's F-16s, which were purchased in the 1990s.

Both the U.S. military and its Taiwanese counterparts have previously denied the report and stressed that there is no change in the F-16 upgrade project.

Friday's committee hearing was held to mark the upcoming 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (台灣關係法, TRA).

MOFA said the hearing, entitled "The Promise of the Taiwan Relations Act," shows the strong and close relations between Taiwan and the U.S.

It also serves as evidence that both U.S. officials and lawmakers deeply value U.S.-Taiwan relations.

The U.S. official's comments again show that Washington will continue to help Taiwan establish self-defensive capabilities as stipulated by the Taiwan Relations Act, MOFA added.

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