Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan to receive US arms package

MIXED REACTION:While some saw the US’ decision to upgrade the F-16A/Bs as significant, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said it was ‘woefully insufficient’

By William Lowther  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

“We firmly believe that our arms sales to Taiwan contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he added.

Reflecting the Obama administration’s approval of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pro-China policies, Campbell said there had been substantial progress in dialogue and diplomacy across the Taiwan Strait.

“We support that process, we encourage it and we want it to go forward, and we think that these particular steps allow Taiwan to engage in both diplomacy and in security in the knowledge of a strong relationship with the US,” Campbell said.

Daniel Russel, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council — standing shoulder to shoulder with Campbell — said: “The preservation of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is fundamentally and profoundly in the strategic interests of the US and our allies and partners.”

“Progress in cross-strait ties over the past few years, dialogue and diplomacy, has been a major contributor to that stability,” he said.

Reminded that there are moves in Congress to force Obama to sell the F-16C/Ds, Campbell said: “No decisions have been made on selling new F-16C/D aircraft. It is still under consideration and we are aware of Taiwan’s request to the US government. The US and Taiwan will continue to examine the F-16C/D issue in the context of our discussions about Taiwan’s overall defense needs.”

“We believe that the approach we have taken is prudent and careful and we will continue along these lines,” he added.

Both Campbell and Russel denied that the US was in any way trying to interfere in the Taiwanese presidential election.

However, last week, after a Washington visit by Democratic Progressive Party Chaiperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), a senior administration official acting under a cloak of anonymity called the Financial Times to say that Washington had doubts about the DPP presidential candidate’s ability to maintain good cross-strait relations.

The strong indication was that Obama was in favor of Ma’s re-election and wanted to support him.

Asked directly about the telephone call by the senior US official, who is believed to have been with the National Security Council, to the Financial Times, Russel said: “To put it in a nutshell, there is no interference in Taiwan’s election. The US strongly supports Taiwan’s democracy. We respect the will of the voters to choose their own leaders.”

“We will work within the context of our official relationship with whoever the Taiwanese people elect,” Russel said. “Many of us had substantive discussions with Madame Tsai when she was in Washington. Although we don’t talk publicly about the content of those meetings, she was afforded a very respectful set of senior meetings and there was a full exchange of views.”

“What has really changed since the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act is the coming of democracy to Taiwan,” Campbell said.

Additional Reporting By Staff Writer

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