Taiwan to seek more arms from the U.S.
AFPTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's national defense minister has vowed to seek more weaponry from the United States (U.S.), which he said would give the island greater confidence in pushing for rapprochement talks with China.
February 8, 2010, 9:51 am TWN
The remarks come as Beijing and Washington are locked in an escalating row over a massive U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, which Beijing insists is part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.
China has responded furiously with a raft of reprisals, saying it would suspend military and security contacts with Washington and impose sanctions on U.S. firms involved in the US$6.4 billion arms package.
Kao Hua-chu, minister of Ministry of National Defense (MND) defended the arms sale Saturday, saying the arms package would help stabilize the Taiwan Strait.
“The U.S. has kept providing Taiwan with defensive weapons according to the Taiwan Relations Act, enabling Taiwan to be more confident in pressing for reconciliation with the Chinese mainland,” he said, according to the Military News Agency.
“In the future, Taiwan will continue purchasing more weaponry from the U.S.... so as to build a smaller and leaner deterrent force.”
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008, pledging to boost trade links and allow in more Chinese tourists.
Still, Beijing has not renounced its use of force against Taiwan, which has governed itself since the end of a civil war in 1949.
Speaking at the opening of a security conference in Munich Friday, China's Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan violated standards in international relations and would provoke a reaction from Beijing.
Taiwan's Premier Wu Den-yih dismissed Yang's allegations, saying Beijing's continued missile buildup along the mainland coastline facing the island had prompted Taiwan to seek more self-defensive weaponry.
“It's just like two people trying for reconciliation. If one of them sticks a gun in his waist, it would be weird, don't you think so,” Wu said in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix satellite television Saturday.
“The people of Taiwan would feel better if China can withdraw its missiles hundreds of kilometers away (from where they have been deployed),” he said.
Taiwan's latest package of U.S. weaponry includes Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters and communication equipment for its fleet of F-16 fighter jets, but not the submarines and fighter aircraft it had requested.