Washington, March 14 (CNA) The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce new arms sales to Taiwan after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) slated for early April in Florida, U.S. media have reported.
An article published on Tuesday on the news website Washington Free Beacon indicated that the Trump administration "is now preparing to provide more and better defensive arms to Taiwan," citing administration officials familiar with internal discussion on the arms sale.
"The new arms package, however, is not expected to be made public until after Trump meets with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next month," it said. It also quoted White House officials as saying that the meeting is set for early April in South Florida.
The news came after the Obama administration blocked a US$1 billion arms sale to Taiwan in December that was needed to improve the island's defensive capabilities and approved by the State Department and Pentagon, the article said.
The action coincided with a controversial pre-inaugural phone call on Dec. 2 between then-President-elect Trump and Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
Asked about the possibility of new arms sales to Taiwan, Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross said he does not discuss "pre-decisional matters," Washington Free Beacon reported. He added, however, that U.S. arms sales have contributed to stability in the Taiwan Strait by providing Taiwan with the confidence needed to purse constructive interactions with Beijing.
Meanwhile, the New York Times also reported on Tuesday that the Trump administration is expected to "sell Taiwan a robust package of weapons, a gesture that reliably infuriates China."
The sale would revive memories of Trump's "unorthodox decision" to take a phone call from Taiwan's President Tsai and publicly question the "one China" policy, which is the foundation of the United States- China relationship, it said.
The reports came before U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's first trip to Asia as America's top diplomat, which will take him to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing later this week.
Taiwan is expected to be a major topic of discussion at both the summit between Trump and Xi, as well as Tillerson's China visit, the Washington Free Beacon said.
(By Elaine Hou and Tony Liao)