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Government hails US arms sale

STABLE RELATIONSHIPS:President Tsai said the US$1.42 billion worth of US arms would increase the nation’s confidence and ability to maintain the ‘status quo’

Staff writer, with CNA

US-made M60A3 Patton tanks fire at targets during the annual Han Kuang military exercises in Penghu County on May 25.

Photo: AP

A proposed US arms sale would improve the nation’s self-defense capabilities, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.

The planned US$1.42 billion sale, which was announced by the US Department of State on Thursday, would help maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said, thanking the US for its support.

It is the first arms sale to Taiwan announced by the administration of US President Donald Trump.

It covers eight items Taiwan asked for last year, which are expected to enhance the nation’s air and naval defenses, as well as its early-warning capabilities, the ministry said.

The items include MK48 heavyweight torpedoes, high-speed anti-radiation missiles, AN/SLQ-32 shipboard electronic warfare suite upgrades and SM-2 missile components.

The ministry said that it would discuss with the US the exact number of weapons, their price and a delivery schedule.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) tweeted a statement expressing gratitude to the US government.

The statement, written in English and released earlier yesterday, said the Presidential Office welcomes the US congressional notification of the arms sale.

“We also thank the US government for its continued commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act [TRA] and the ‘six assurances,’” the statement said.

The statement said the provision of defensive systems would help bolster the nation’s self-defense capabilities.

“This increases Taiwan’s confidence and ability to maintain the ‘status quo’ of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

“On this basis, we will continue to seek constructive dialogue with Beijing and promote positive developments in cross-strait relations. We believe that such efforts will be welcomed by the international community,” the statement said.

“We will continue to increase our defense investments, including in indigenous defense industries and defense-related research, in order to demonstrate our commitment to Taiwan’s self-defense,” it added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government would continue to build on this foundation and work with the US government to deepen the nations’ close security relationship, and work together to maintain regional peace and stability.

“The arms sale package shows that Taiwan-US relations still have their overall stability, even if it does not represent an upgrade,” Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive director Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) said, adding that the package was “a little late,” but still “worth being happy about.”

“This has put to rest a lot of outside speculation about some kind of deal between Chinese President Xi Jinping (習京平) and Trump, showing that Taiwan-US relations are still on their regular track,” he said.

The TRA was enacted in 1979 by the US Congress to maintain commercial, cultural and other unofficial relations between Taiwan and the US after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The act also requires the US “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”

The “six assurances” given to Taiwan in 1982 by then-US president Ronald Reagan include pledges by the US not to set a date to end arms sales to Taiwan, not to hold prior consultations with China regarding arms sales to Taiwan and not to play a mediation role between Taiwan and China.

The final three assurances are that the US will not revise the TRA, alter its position regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty, or pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China.

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