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May 29, 2017

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Weapons systems issues prompt calls for US talks

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan will talk with the United States regarding malfunctions recently identified in the weapons systems the U.S. sold to Taiwan, Taipei's de facto ambassador to Washington said yesterday.

A series of malfunctions were found in two weapons systems that the U.S. recently sold to Taiwan.

Taiwan's Air Force confirmed last week that the delivery of one of the 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft Taiwan bought from the U.S. was behind schedule due to a malfunction in its flight control system.

The news came only weeks after a total of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, the first batch of a total of 30 choppers Taiwan bought from U.S., have been grounded for safety checks since Dec. 17 after a malfunction was found in helicopters of the same model used by the U.S. Army.

Several lawmakers yesterday said the two incidents deserve the government's attention regarding the alleged poor quality of U.S. arms sold to Taiwan. They urged King, Taiwan's top envoy to the U.S., to express concern over the issue to the proper American authorities.

In response, King promised that he will discuss the issue with U.S. officials.

The envoy also said that Taipei will continue to seek purchases of advanced weapons from Washington to bolster national security.

"The U.S. side has assured us that Washington will keep selling Taipei defensive arms as stipulated by the Taiwan Relations Act (台灣關係法, TRA)," King said when fielding questions in the Legislative Yuan.

Regular Wiretap Checks

Meanwhile, in the wake of the ongoing United States wiretapping revelations, King said yesterday that his office in Washington has regularly conducted safety checks to see if the representative office has been wiretapped.

King made the comments in response to questions raised by Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) during the same session yesterday.

According to Lin, many nearby countries, including South Korea, have been strengthening their anti-espionage and anti-wiretapping capabilities recently in the wake of the ongoing United States wiretapping scandal.

MOFA conducted a round of checks at Taiwan's representative office in Thailand in 2005 to see if the office has been wiretapped. Similar checks have been conducted at Taipei's office in Washington only three times in the past decade; in 2005, 2011 and this year, the KMT lawmaker said.

Lin urged the ministry to more frequently conduct similar checks at Taiwan's representative offices around the globe and to upgrade the anti-espionage facilities installed in these offices.

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