Sun, Aug 08, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Ma says Taiwan determined to defend itself

NATIONAL DEFENSESpeaking to guests from the Washington-based CSIS, Ma said the ECFA negotiations with China brought the two nations into deeper contact


President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Friday said the reason Taiwan seeks to purchase high-­performance combat aircraft from the US is to maintain its self-­defense capability.

“Not only does the United States understand that, we know it, and we hope mainland China understands it, too,” Ma said in a Presidential Office meeting with visitors from the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.

The guests included retired US Navy admiral Timothy Keating, as well as Bonnie Glaser and Alan Romberg, specialists on Taiwan Strait affairs.

Ma said that amid improving cross-strait ties, there remained more than 1,000 missiles deployed in China aimed at Taiwan.

This “worries” Taiwan, he said, adding that he hopes Taiwan and the US would not only maintain their security ties, but strengthen the links.

Taiwan’s request to purchase advanced combat aircraft such as F-16C/Ds is not to enhance its offensive capability, but to replace older fighters, which means the country’s fleet can continue to be capable of defending Taiwan, Ma said.

“We will not ask Americans to fight a war for Taiwan” because Taiwan is determined to defend itself, Ma said.

Taiwan is also confident that the tensions in the Strait will continue to decrease, Ma said, adding that as outlined in the Taiwan Relations Act, Washington would keep its promise in terms of arm sales. He called the US promise “crucial” for continued peace in the Strait and stability in East Asia.

Ma also talked about the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement Taiwan signed with China in late June.

He said the trade pact had helped improve cross-strait relations and at the same time ­encouraged Taiwan’s other major trading partners to seek deals that are similar to free-trade agreements with Taiwan.

Taiwan and China spent more than six months in talks and negotiations on the agreement, Ma said. Thanks to the talks, the two sides had deeper and more comprehensive contact with one another than ever before.

“Basically, they were a kind of confidence-building measure,” he told the visitors, who are involved in the think tank’s program on cross-strait confidence-building measures.

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