Thu, Jan 06, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Shaheen says arms funds needed to insure security

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Therese Shaheen, former chairwoman of the American Institute in Taiwan, walks through CKS International Airport after arriving from South Korea for a weeklong visit yesterday. Shaheen now works in the private sector.

PHOTO: TONY YAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Visiting former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairwoman Therese Shaheen yesterday warned that legislative delays to the Ministry of National Defense's NT$610.8 million (US$19.1 billion) arms budget would have a negative impact on the nation's security.

Shaheen arrived in Taipei yesterday for a week-long visit and is scheduled to meet President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) tomorrow, officials said.

Shaheen, now president of the US-Asia Commercial Development Corp, a Washington-based firm with a major presence in Taiwan, is visiting as a private citizen.

Shaheen's company specializes in Asian market entry, international joint ventures and acquisitions, capital investment and technology development. The firm's focus is in telecommunications, submarine cables and semiconductors, primarily in Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.

Shaheen told reporters that she would like to meet Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to discuss the government's arms-procurement plan.

China has consistently increased its weapons budget, she said, adding that Taiwan's defense capability was lagging behind that of China.

Flying in from South Korea, Shaheen told reporters at CKS Airport that she was very happy to be in Taiwan again, and she lauded the nation's democratization.

Taiwan has contributed a lot to the world, and its democratization deserved the attention of the international community, she said.

Noting that her trip was of a private nature, Shaheen said she was informed of the death on Monday of Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) -- a prominent businessmen and chairman of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation for 14 years -- while in Seoul.

Expressing her condolences, Shaheen said Koo was an elegant gentleman who made a great contribution to Taiwan.

This trip is Shaheen's second visit to Taiwan since she stepped down as AIT chairwoman last April. She is expected to discuss Taiwan-US relations and other international developments with Chen Shui-bian.

"We welcome her visit. She treated us really well when President Chen visited New York," Mark Chen told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the US' warm reception of the president at a stopover during his overseas tour in 2003.

Shaheen said she had brought a gift for Chen Shui-bian's second grandson, who was born last month.

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