Gov't denies needing US consent to ask for arm sales
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry yesterday both denied local media reports that said the U.S. is about to launch a new policy on granting arm sales to Taiwan which could make it more difficult to purchase new weapons systems.
October 4, 2013, 12:17 am TWN
More than one news outlets in Taiwan yesterday quoted Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, as saying that under the latest policy, Taipei has to ask permission from Washington before it can submit a Letter of Request (LOR) for the pricing and availability of the weapons it needs.
“Taiwan will not submit LORs without first seeking permission from the U.S. ... It's unique to Taiwan; no other ally is under this restriction,” he said.
Hammond-Chambers said the policy means that Washington is further restricting its arms sales to Taiwan in order to enhance relations with Beijing. He warned that this could imply further downgrading of Taiwan-U.S. ties.
Hammond-Chambers made the comments during a press conference on Wednesday as the 12th annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference closed in Annapolis, Maryland.
Asked to comment on Hammond-Chambers' remark, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) yesterday said Taiwan's government has not received any such information from the U.S. on changing its arm sales policy so far.
She stressed that the existing bilateral communication channel on arms sales issue has been working smoothly.
Military spokesman Luo Shou-he (羅紹和) also said Taiwan has not been told by the U.S. not to submit LORs unless first gaining its approval.
He added that Taiwan appreciates the U.S. for its long-term support of the nation's defense needs. Taiwan will continue to work closely with the U.S. to acquire weapons to defend itself amid escalating military threats.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese official who prefers to stay anonymous yesterday told local media that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are always based on mutual consensus.
The U.S. will never tell Taiwan not to submit LORs, the official said. As long as the U.S. government is willing to sell weapons to Taiwan, it will do so even if Taiwan does not submit letters of request, according to the official.
The annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference is considered an important platform for dialogue on Taiwan's national security needs and cooperation with the U.S.
This year, Taiwan's delegation was headed by Vice Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發).