President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said on Monday that the nation must continue to develop defensive weapons but said that it was unlikely China would attack Taiwan.
"We must take precautions in case Chinese leaders make unreasonable moves, for the Chinese government is not under legislative or public supervision," he said.
While cross-strait disputes must be resolved peacefully, Chen said Taiwan must nevertheless strengthen its self-defense capabilities.
Taiwan will not engage in an arms race with Beijing, but it must not stop developing necessary defensive weapons, he said.
Chen made the remarks in response to questions by the Taiwanese press corps at a press conference he held with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
Saying that the best national defense is unity, Ortega said that it is more constructive to spend the defense budget on combating poverty and hunger and addressing infant mortality.
Ortega said he did not think China would attack Taiwan -- at least not for the moment -- adding that both sides should resolve their differences via peaceful means.
Chen drew laughter when he described his relationship with Ortega as "special" and like "a couple deeply in love."
Chen said they spent 13 hours together on his first day in Nicaragua, talking about various issues ranging from defensive weapons to Taiwan's UN bid.
Chen said they had wanted to continue talking into the night but were afraid Ortega's wife would be jealous.
Chen said he was particularly touched by what Ortega had once told him -- that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who have 1,000 cups of water but drink alone and those who have only one cup but share it with others.
Taiwan is the latter, Chen quoted Ortega as saying.
"We are willing to share our one cup of water with our good friends, the people of Nicaragua," he said.
He also complimented a cold drink Ortega made using a personal recipe. Calling the drink "the modern Viagra," Chen said that Ortega did not keep the recipe to himself but shared it with him and other friends.
Ortega said they were indeed like a couple deeply in love but that their conversations were not romantic.
They include the welfare of their countries' people, peace, safety and social justice.
Nicaragua is the last leg of Chen's three-nation visit to Central America. Chen is scheduled to return to Taipei tonight.