Vice defense minister calls for US arms sales
By Joseph Yeh ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan continues to urge the United States government to sell it more advanced weaponry, including new fighter jets and submarines, to enhance the nation's defense capabilities, Vice Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) said Monday during a trip to the U.S.
October 2, 2013, 12:09 am TWN
At a press conference on Monday, Yen, who is leading a Taiwanese delegation to an annual bilateral gathering of military officials in the U.S., said that mainland China has continued to build its military strength, a development which poses a potentially serious threat to Taiwan.
To meet its defensive needs, Taiwan hopes the U.S. will sell advanced weapons systems, particularly advanced fighter jets and submarines, as soon as possible, Yen noted.
Yen, however, did not specify if the R.O.C. military aims in the future to procure new F-16C/Ds or the even more advanced F-35 fighters from the U.S.
“We are looking forward to buying fighter jets that are more advanced than our existing fleet of F-16A/B jet fighters,” he said.
Meanwhile, the vice minister also said Taiwan has continued to request that the U.S. sell it submarines.
At the same time, however, local armed forces are studying the feasibility of building diesel-electric submarines domestically, he noted.
Four submarines are currently in active service in the R.O.C. Navy — two Dutch-built submarines from the 1980s and two U.S. Guppy-class submarines built during World War II.
In the hope of replacing these decades-old submarines, the military has been asking the U.S. to sell it diesel-powered submarines.
In 2001, the administration of former U.S. President George Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan. But so far, no significant progress has been made in procurement negotiations.
Yen is now heading a delegation to attend the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, held in Maryland.
The annual conference, which runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, is hosted by the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing bilateral trade and business ties.
Around 110 representatives from both countries are expected to attend.
Senior US Official Attends Summit Amid Doubts
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) sent Daniel Chiu, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy, to deliver an address during the conference on Monday, despite conference organizers previously indicating that no ranking U.S. foreign affairs or defense officials would speak at the annual conference.
Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, had told reporters on Sunday that the possible absence of senior U.S. officials at the meeting was a warning sign of the deterioration of Taiwan-U.S. relations.
The conference, first held in 2002, is considered an important platform for dialogue on Taiwan's national security needs, weapons procurement and defense cooperation with the U.S.