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May 25, 2017

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Business group accuses US of neglecting Taiwan

TAIPEI -- A U.S.-based business association has accused Washington of neglecting its obligation to provide Taiwan with arms to defend itself and warning that Beijing was taking advantage of the situation.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, a group of companies with interests in the island chaired by former U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, said the lack of U.S. action was allowing China to shift the balance of power in its favor.

"Given the lackadaisical treatment of the Taiwan relationship since 2008, the U.S. seems willing to roll the dice and let China and Taiwan get on with it," it said in a statement earlier this week.

Taiwan applied to the U.S. government to buy 66 fighter jets in 2007, but observers say Washington has held up the deal for fear of angering Beijing.

China opposes any arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers a part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war and have been governed separately since.

Taiwan maintains that it still needs a strong military despite improving ties in recent years.

The Chinese military has modernised rapidly in recent years, and Taiwanese experts estimate it now has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.

"By continuing its build-up of missiles opposite Taiwan, as well as in building up its countless other capabilities, China's military is changing the status quo of the cross-Strait relationship," the council said.

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