Wed, Jan 13, 2010 - Page 1 News List

US completion of arms deal a confidence booster: Ma

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday thanked Washington for supplying new arms to Taiwan, saying it gave his administration more confidence when dealing with China.

Ma said he learned from the US media recently that there might be some new developments in the country’s arms procurement plans.

“We are happy to see such a development,” he said. “The US government’s arms sale to Taiwan is not only Washington’s obligation as stated in the Taiwan Relations Act but also conducive to stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Ma said the country was thankful that the US government was resolute in its position on this issue and because of Washington’s insistence, the region would be safer and more prosperous.

Ma made the remarks while meeting a delegation led by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

The Washington Post ran a Reuters story on Thursday saying that the US Department of Defense had awarded Lockheed Martin Corp a contract for selling an unspecified number of advanced Patriot missiles to Taiwan.

The report quoted defense analysts as saying that the hardware was among the best in its class and could shoot down Chinese short-range and mid-range missiles.

China was quick to denounce the plan and urged the US to scrap the planned sale.

The Chinese foreign ministry also demanded that Washington avoid arranging a meeting between US President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, the China Daily reported.

The Washington Post said the meeting and the arms sale could take place early in the year.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) urged Washington to “see clearly the harm [of any such moves] and cancel the arms sale plan to Taiwan so as to avoid disturbing the overall situation,” the China Daily said.

She called on the US to adhere to the three Sino-US joint communiques, especially the principles established in the Joint Communique on Aug. 17, 1982.

The communique states that the US intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.

The China Daily said the revised arms sale proposal was announced by Robert Kovac, the acting US deputy assistant secretary of state for defense trade, in December.

The package includes design assistance on diesel-electric submarines and 60 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. In addition, more PAC-3 missiles, as well as an operations deal for a command and control program, were under discussion, the report quoted Kovac as saying.

The former administration of US president George W. Bush announced a US$6.5 billion arms package for Taiwan in October 2008. The deal included 30 Apache attack helicopters and 330 Patriot missiles. It was to be the biggest arms sale to Taiwan since China and the US signed the 1982 Communique.

The contract with Lockheed Martin Corp this time was a part of that deal in 2008.

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