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MA welcomes US arms
Sun, Jan 31, 2010
The China Post/Asia News Network

The United States has announced a US$6.4 billion (S$9 billion) package of weapons, including PAC-3 missiles, to be sold to Taiwan, drawing strong protest from China.

China yesterday reiterated its stern objection to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and suspended all military exchanges with the United States.

But President Ma Ying-jeou, who was in Los Angeles at the time of the announcement, said that with the weapons, Taiwan will be more confident of defending itself, which will facilitate the development of cross-strait ties, according to his spokesman Tony Wang.

President Ma also said Taiwan has always wanted to maintain good relationships with the United States.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) welcomed the U.S. government's arms sale announcement, which it described as clear evidence of good Taipei-Washington ties.

The Obama administration notified the U.S. Congress Friday of the arms package, which includes 114 PAC-3 missiles and technical support, worth US$2.82 billion, and 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, worth US$3.1 billion.

The United States is also selling Taiwan two Osprey Class mine hunting ships; 12 ATM-84L and RTM-84L Harpoon Block II Telemetry missiles; 35 multifunctional information distribution systems low volume terminals (MIDS/LVT 1); and 25 MIDS On Ships Terminals.

The sale will take effect if the U.S. Congress does not voice any objections within 30 days of the notification.

But the package does not include the diesel-powered submarines or the F-16C/D jet fighters that Taiwan also sought to buy.

A MOFA spokesman said the Obama administration has often reiterated its intentions to fulfill its obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), which commits the United States to provide the island with defensive weapons.

Taiwan's defense ministry also issued a statement welcoming the U.S. government's decision to sell the weapons under the TRA framework.

It said the move will boost Taiwan's confidence in its efforts to promote cross-strait ties.

The ministry also said the weapons will help modernize Taiwan armed forces, and it vowed that the military buildup program will continue in line with the country's policy and military strategy.

In response to the exclusion of the F-16 jets from the package, Premier Wu Den-yih said the government will continue its efforts trying to acquire them.

The premier urged the U.S. government to sell weaponry systems that Taiwan needs at reasonable prices to help strengthen the island's defensive capability and maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.

A senior Washington official said Friday he believes U.S.-China ties will not be affected by the arms sales to Taiwan, the Central News Agency reported.

The official was cited as saying that the sale is based on the TRA and comes at a time when China continues to increase its military threat against Taiwan.

China has deployed hundreds of missiles aimed at Taiwan, which it claims to be part of its territory. It vows to invade the island should it declare formal independence.

Legislator Lin Yu-fang from Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang said the arms package will be sufficient for Taiwan to build up its anti-missile defensive network.

His colleague Tsai Huang-liang from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said the arms package marks a good beginning, but the defense network will still need the F-16C/D planes and diesel-powered submarines.

Tsai urged the Ma administration to continue seeking the jet fighters and submarines, which he said should have been the core of the latest arms sales.

The Interior Ministry said it will take over 15 of the Black Hawk helicopters for rescue operations.

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