US weapons needed for leverage: minister
CNAWASHINGTON -- Taiwan needs U.S. weapons to maintain a balance with China despite warming relations across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's Information Minister Philip Yang said Friday in Washington D.C.
July 17, 2011, 11:08 pm TWN
In a speech at the National Press Club in the U.S. capital, Yang stressed the importance of U.S. support in maintaining Taiwan's security and Taiwan's need for a strong national defense to support its peaceful interaction and negotiations with China.
“For cross-strait relations to continue advancing, the U.S. must help Taiwan level the playing field. Negotiating with a giant like mainland China is not without its risks,” he said.
“The right leverage must be in place; otherwise Taiwan cannot credibly maintain an equal footing at the negotiation table,” said Yang, pointing to the ongoing Chinese military build-up as the reason why Taiwan hopes to acquire F-16 C/D jet fighters and diesel-electric submarines from the United States.
According to the Taiwan Relations Act, the U.S. is obliged to sell arms to Taiwan to help it defend itself.
Yang said Taiwan looks forward to increasing its security cooperation with the U.S. based on mutual trust and common strategic interests and stressed that the continued support by the U.S. of Taiwan matches its own interests in East Asia.
Yang also discussed the breakthroughs the administration had achieved in relations with China and the achievements of Taiwan's flexible diplomacy.
The administration's cross-strait policy to put “easy issues before difficult ones,” “pressing matters before less pressing ones,” and “economic matters before political ones,” has spurred a “virtuous cycle” for cross-strait relations and opened up opportunities for Taiwan's international participation, Yang argued.
He cited the resumption of talks and the signing of 15 agreements with the mainland, Taiwan's third appearance at the World Health Assembly, and accession to the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Government Procurement as the result of the administration's efforts to improve relations between the two sides.
Warming relations have also brought positive changes in Taiwan's ties with the U.S., Japan, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, New Zealand and Australia, which have all been more willing to enhance ties with Taiwan, the official said.
Yang also touted the benefits of the administration's flexible diplomacy, which he said avoided competition or direct confrontation with the mainland and relied instead on Taiwan's economic and democratic soft power to create opportunities for Taiwan in the international arena.
He said that over the past three years, Taiwan has obtained visa-free privileges or landing-visa rights from 63 more countries or regions to bring the total number of countries or regions that have granted Taiwan such rights to 116.