Taiwan grateful to Obama for approving frigates sale

President Barack Obama sent a bill to Congress on Tuesday to strengthen US cybersecurity laws to protect government, businesses and consumers while protecting privacy, after recent hacking attacks against Sony Pictures, Home Depot Inc and Target Corp , and on Monday the federal government itself.

TAIPEI - Taiwan yesterday expressed gratitude to the United States government after US President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a piece of legislation that authorizes the sale of four Perry-class frigates to meet Taiwan's defensive needs.

Ministry of National Defence (MND) spokesman Luo Shao-ho thanked for US strong support to Taiwan.

The move "demonstrates the US commitment to our security in line with the Taiwan Relations Act" and also "serves as perfect example for strong and stable Taiwan-US ties," he said.

The Taiwan Relations Act was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the US and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. It also requires the US "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."

Luo added that the Taiwan government will allocate funds to procure the warships next year.

It will continue to work closely with the US in the hope that Washington will continue to provide armaments and weapon systems to boost Taiwan's defensive capability.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said that the case is a further exemplification of the US government and Congress' support of Taiwan across party lines.

The Naval Vessel Transfer Bill of 2014 was previously passed unanimously by the Senate and the House of Representatives before Obama signed the bill on Thursday.

The four frigates that have been offered to Taiwan are the USS Taylor (FFG-50), USS Gary (FFG-51), USS Carr (FFG-52) and USS Elrod (FFG-55).

The four warships were commissioned between 1984 and 1985 and, except for the USS Carr, which was decommissioned in March 2013, all are in active service.

Military sources yesterday told local media that the MND for the time being only wants the USS Taylor and the USS Gary because the USS Carr has already been decommissioned, while the combat systems on the USS Elrod are outdated.

A Navy source yesterday told the Central News Agency that the first two frigates could be delivered to Taiwan in 2016 a the earliest.

The Navy is expected to send personnel to the US next year in preparation for the transfer of the two frigates, it added.

Taiwan has wanted to purchase the guided missile frigates for years, and which are being decommissioned by the US Navy after some 30 years of service, to replace the R.O.C. Navy's aging Chi-Yang-class or Knox-class frigates.