Legislative obstruction of the NT$610.8 billion (US$19.2 billion) arms deal with the US has become an obstacle in Taiwan-US relations, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) chairwoman Therese Shaheen said yesterday.
Shaheen arrived in Taiwan two days ago for a week-long visit as a private citizen. She was interviewed by reporters yesterday about the arms deal.
When asked about whether the arms deal had become an obstacle in Taiwan-US relations, Shaheen answered, "I have to say `yes.'"
Shaheen said that although there were a number of problems with the relationship, the arms deal was crucial.
She added that Taiwan had to demonstrate to the world that it was determined to defend itself.
The arms deal had been stalled in the Legislative Yuan for a long time, Shaheen said, and "this is the reason why the US gets upset when there's rhetoric [from the Taiwanese government] that they think [is] inflammatory."
Shaheen apparently expressed similar thoughts when visiting Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (
The two met at the Legislative Yuan and had a closed-door meeting for about one-and-a-half hours.
Wang indicated that Shaheen had said changes in Taiwan-US relations could be gauged from how the arms deal was faring, and although the US would respect Taiwan's decision on the deal, whether Taiwan had enough power to be formidable was something the nation should carefully evaluate.
Wang said that although he and Shaheen had discussed the Taiwan-US relationship, "it is not convenient for me to divulge what we said."
"Shaheen came to see me as a good friend, and we mainly recalled her time at AIT and how her life has been after AIT," Wang said.
Shaheen had told reporters that she did not meet Wang to discuss the arms deal, but Wang said she expressed concern over the matter. In exchange, Wang discussed the progress of the bill in the legislature.
"Shaheen spoke to me as a friend, and said that the US would respect Taiwan's decision, but that Taiwan has to carefully consider issues of security and self-defense capacities," he said.