Not since Nixon and Kissinger were willing to give Taiwan away to Mao's China in
1972, to further isolate the Soviet Union, has the US threatened downgrading its willingness to upgrade Taiwan's defence until now.
The US has treaty obligations to Taiwan. As American administrations have grown cozy with mainland China, an independent Taiwan, which Beijing calls a 'renegade province', has proved at times useful, at others, bothersome.
Today as Taiwan enters an election cycle, the US by 'withholding Taiwan's request for F-16s, Obama is throwing a snit. Why? The 45 American president is pleased by the current Kuomintong party in power's snug relations with mainland China; such warm and comfortable and unguarded relations trouble independent minded Taiwanese who for the last 66 years have developed a national identity of their own.
Obama's display of pique is a way of US interference in the presidential race which is going to be a cliff hanger, and may bring the Democratic Progressive Party back to power.
The DPP has pushed for independence or, let's put it another way, played the role the 'parti quebecois' plays in Canada: a spur in US China relations, which are far from smooth. According to recently released Wikileaks US diplomatic cable, Washington looks with disfavour on the return of the DPP to power.
And accordingly, the US is doing its best to interfer in the Taiwan elections, by using the threat of weakening its defence faced by a powerful China who thinks nothing of lassoing Taiwan back into its fold, in violation of Taiwanese feelings.