Sun, Aug 07, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Pro-Taiwan US caucus asks Ma to back arms bill

LET'S START AGAIN The congressional caucus' co-chairmen appealed to the next KMT chairman to put Taiwan's interests first and facilitate the bill's passage

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Three of four co-chairmen of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus have urged Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to allow the Legislative Yuan to pass a special package of arms purchases from the US, a package that has been blocked by the pan-blue camp under outgoing KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰).

The US lawmakers' request came in a letter to Ma congratulating him on his landslide July 16 election.

"We urge you, as the new chairman of the KMT, to lead efforts in Taipei to ensure that the Legislative Yuan quickly passes a special arms procurement package or increases its annual defense spending," the letter said.

"We believe as you do that cooperation between Taipei and Washington is paramount to Taiwan's security and is in the mutual interest of both nations," it said.

Three of the four caucus co-chairmen signed the letter. They were Republican Representative Steve Chabot and Democratic representatives Sherrod Brown and Robert Wexler. Not signing the letter was Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher, one of the most ardent pro-Taiwan legislators in Washington.

The Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a pro-independence lobby group that released the letter, offered no explanation for Rohrabacher's failure to sign.

In the letter, the three co-chairmen invited Ma to Washington next month to "address members of the caucus and engage in a dialogue concerning US-Taiwan relations."

"Given the myriad of complex and difficult issues facing the United States and Taiwan in the coming years," the letter said, "we believe your visit would be a positive step towards enhancing this historic partnership."

The caucus leaders said they wanted to assure Ma that the US was "fully committed to the security, prosperity and future of the people of Taiwan."

They added that, "We know you value the long-standing relationship between the United States and Taiwan, a relationship that has grown stronger in recent years."

The letter is the latest in a string of efforts by Bush administration officials and congressmen to get Taipei to approve the arms package, which includes up to eight diesel-electric submarines, three PAC-III anti-missile batteries and 12 P-3C anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft.

It also comes in the wake of the latest Pentagon report on China's military buildup, which identifies a rising threat toward Taiwan, and in the wake of growing feeling among military experts in Washington that China may already have gained the military equipment and expertise to launch a successful attack on Taiwan while parrying US efforts to intervene.

Earlier this year, 33 US legislators sent a letter to Lien urging him to cease blocking the special arms package. But Lien spurned that request.

also see story:

Ma says he is not against arms deal

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