President pushes US to sell Taiwan new jet fighters
CNATAIPEI -- President Ma Ying-jeou urged the United States yesterday to sell F-16 C/D jet fighters to Taiwan to prevent the balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait from tilting further in China's favor.
August 20, 2010, 12:35 am TWN
“The purpose of procuring advanced jet fighters is not to provoke war but to beef up Taiwan's defense capability,” Ma said during a meeting with visiting U.S. Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill.) at the Presidential Office.
It was the third time in less than three weeks that Ma made such an appeal to the U.S. government, underscoring the urgency for Taiwan to acquire new jet fighters to upgrade its air force fleet in the face of China's continued military buildup.
On the previous occasions, he was in a meeting Aug. 6 with a delegation from the U.S. think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, and with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs in the Senate, on Aug. 13.
Stressing that the people of Taiwan are most concerned with the issue of national security, Ma said he hopes the U.S. government will favorably consider Taiwan's request to purchase F-16 C/Ds for air defense in order to stabilize the cross-strait balance of military power, which has been shifting more substantially in China's favor over the past years.
He assured Burris that the proposed F-16 C/D procurement would be purely for the purpose of reinforcing Taiwan's air defense — not to prepare for war.
“Our American friends can rest assured that the aircraft would be only for defense purposes and national security, “ Ma told his guest.
On cross-strait relations, Ma said, the option for Taiwan and China is to resolve their disputes by peaceful means. Since assuming office more than two years ago, Ma said, his administration has been working hard to improve relations with China and has succeeded in reducing cross-strait tensions.
During the period, Taiwan signed 14 accords with China and this week the Legislative Yuan ratified the landmark cross-strait economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) and passed all related bills, he said.
“We will exchange instruments of ratification with mainland China soon to implement the trade pact,” Ma said.
Meanwhile, he noted, Taiwan and Singapore jointly announced on Aug. 5 that they will explore the feasibility of an economic cooperation agreement that will be similar to a free trade agreement.
“Negotiations are scheduled to begin later this year,” Ma said.
In the wake of the ECFA's signing, Ma said, Taiwan will speed up economic globalization to improve its competitiveness.
At the same time, he said, Taiwan is looking forward to making progress in its exchanges with the U.S. in the areas of trade, investment, education and judicial cooperation, and hopes that dialogue under the Taiwan-U.S.Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will resume soon.