Wed, Aug 02, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Washington says it is concerned about Taiwan's defense

WEAPONS PURCHASE Two DPP lawmakers said that US officials had expressed `grave concern' over Taiwan's willingness to upgrade its defense

CNA , NEW YORK

Washington remains concerned over whether Taiwan is determined to boost its defense capabilities, visiting Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legisla-tor Shen Fa-hui (沈發惠) said on Monday.

China threat

Shen and DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤),who visited Washington before arriving in New York on Sunday, said that US officials had expressed "grave concern" during talks last week over whether Taiwan could "effectively" raise its overall defense and combat capabilities as China continues its rapid military build-up.

As to the procurement of three major weapons systems from the US, Shen said that the US officials did not name any particular item this time around.

However, they had mentioned that the design and construction of the eight diesel-fueled submarines that the US has promised to sell to Taiwan could be discussed separately.

FTA

Meanwhile, Shen said he and Lee were told by Department of Commerce officials that the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Taiwan and the US was not expected to happen any time soon and that efforts would continue to focus on talks under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Frame-work Agreement (TIFA).

But Shen also said US officials told them that Taiwan need not worry that the window for consideration of an FTA was closing.

"There probably will be a unique opportunity sometime in the near future for the two sides to embark on new rounds of FTA talks," Shen quoted a US official as saying to him.

Fast track

The Bush administration's Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) will expire on July 1 next year.

The TPA is a fast-track arrangement that allows the White House to negotiate trade deals and present them to Congress for a simple yes-or-no vote.

Shen and Lee visited Jimmy Meng (孟廣瑞), the first Chinese-American elected as a member of the New York State House of Representatives, on Monday at his office.

The two legislators also met and wished Meng's daughter, Grace Meng (孟昭文), success in running in the New York State Democratic primary next month.t

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