US won't discontinue weapon sales: MOFA
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The United States has reiterated its promise to Taiwan to continue to provide the country weapons to meet its defensive needs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.
August 23, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
MOFA's comment came amid Chinese media reports that the Chinese defense minister called on his U.S. counterpart to stop arms sales to Taiwan during a recent meeting in Washington.
Asked to comment, MOFA spokesman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that Taiwan's government closely monitored the meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Chang Wanquan (常萬全) on Aug. 19.
The U.S. officials also briefed Taiwanese counterparts following the meeting, she added.
She said the U.S. sides have told Taiwanese officials that issues of weapons sales to Taiwan were not part of the agenda during the Aug. 19 meeting.
“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) and the 'six assurances,'” Kao said at a news briefing yesterday.
The U.S. has reaffirmed that it will help Taiwan establish self-defensive capabilities and contribute to the maintenance of a stable situation across the Taiwan Strait, the spokeswoman added.
Kao noted that it has always been Beijing's stance to ask Washington to stop selling weapons to Taipei during bilateral talks.
She said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) made a similar push in June, calling on the U.S. to stop arms sales to Taiwan during a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama.
But the U.S. president replied that his administration clearly understood its commitment to Taiwan under the TRA, including providing defensive weapons, she added.
Chinese media reports on Tuesday quoted Guan Youfei (關有飛), head of the Chinese Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, who accompanied Chang on the visit, as saying that Chang brought up the arms sales topic during his meeting with Hagel.
During the meeting, Chang proposed to Washington that China will make adjustments to its military deployment if the U.S. agrees to stop selling arms to Taiwan.
Washington, however, made no immediate response, reports said.
The Chinese defense minister also proposed to form a joint task force with the U.S. on its arms sales to Taiwan. The proposal received positive responses from the U.S. side during the meeting, reports said.
Defense Ministry Refutes 'Joint Working Group' Claim
Meanwhile, Taiwan's Defense Ministry yesterday issued a statement to refute Chinese media reports that the U.S. has agreed to form a joint working group with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan.
The reports were “far from the truth,” the statement said.
The military is confident that the U.S. will continue to adhere to the TRA and the “six assurances,” as well as provide Taiwan with defensive arms, it said.
Chang was leading a military delegation on a four-day visit to the U.S that began on Aug. 16.
During their meeting, Chang and Hagel discussed a broad range of issues, including the rebalancing of U.S. forces to the Asia-Pacific region and bilateral military-to-military relations, the U.S. Defense Department said on its website.