Taiwan gave the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 10,000 rifles and other sweeteners in exchange for the UAE allowing President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to make an unofficial visit to the country, a local magazine said yesterday.
The Journalist weekly quoted an unnamed military source as saying that Taipei promised military, oil and aviation cooperation in exchange for Chen's Sept. 29-Oct. 1 visit to the UAE.
"Taiwan offered 10,000 self-developed T91 rifles to the UAE. When the UAE's [senior government official] Sheikh Hamid bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Taiwan in June, he visited weapons plants and expressed interest in the T91," the magazine said.
"Taiwan's small arms and military gear are popular around the world because they are good quality and are not expensive. Jordan has bought thousands of T91s because it found that T91 is more powerful than the US-made rifle M16A2 and the Russian-made rifle AK47," the magazine said.
Chen made a surprise visit to the UAE after completing his visit to five Latin American diplomatic allies late last month. Local press said Chen had met with UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin-Zayed an-Nahyan and other officials.
Besides military cooperation, Taiwan and the UAE discussed cooperation in the petrochemical and aviation spheres. China Airlines is also expected to add Abu Dhabi to its Taipei-Europe route starting in the winter, the magazine said.
The magazine said that to develop unofficial ties with countries which do not recognize Taipei, the government has donated -- or sold at low prices -- weapons and military equipment to dozens of countries.
Last week, national security sources said that Vice Minister of National Defense Hou Shou-yeh (霍守業) left a legislative question-and-answer session early on Sept. 28 because he had to lead a delegation to the UAE that afternoon to promote military diplomacy and other exchanges.
The UAE has reportedly always been friendly toward Taiwan, despite a lack of official ties. Abu Dhabi is said to be very interested in buying Taiwan-made small arms.
While saying that it was too early to carry out actual military exchanges with the UAE, national security officials have said that, thanks to the good reputation of Taiwan's T91 battle rifles and other small arms in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is especially enthusiastic about talks with Hou over the purchase of small arms.