Sat, May 10, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Government urged by US to purchase sophisticated arms

CNA , HONG KONG

The US is urging Taiwan's government to buy more sophisticated military hardware to defend against China, the Far Eastern Economic Review reported in its May 15 issue.

The report said that for years, Taipei begged the US to sell it more sophisticated military hardware to defend against China.

"Now, in a surprising twist, it is the Americans who are urging Taiwan to get on with the program," the report said.

Pentagon officials were quoted as saying they are hopeful that Taipei will soon request the new Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile system built by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

"We're seeing greater activity and forward movement on missile defense than we have to date," a Pentagon official was quoted as saying.

The official revealed to the Review that Taipei submitted a letter of request for pricing and availability in April, shortly after a Pentagon missile-defense team visited Taiwan.

"The good news is that they're [understanding] that missile defense is important," the official was quoted as saying.

But Taipei, the official continued, still has not ordered any of the equipment that US President George W. Bush approved for sale two years ago, including destroyers, submarines and sub-hunting aircraft.

Michael McDevitt, a China specialist at CNA Corp, a think-tank that consults for the Pentagon, was quoted as saying that US officials are urging Taipei to step up spending on missile defence because of a Chinese military build-up that is taking place even as Beijing has mounted a charm offensive toward Taiwan in which it has been highlighting the benefits of closer economic ties with China.

He noted that China has increased its arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan to force the nation to negotiate unification on Beijing's terms.

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