Sat, Apr 29, 2017 - Page 3 News List

KMT criticizes president’s call for arms, F-35s

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Purchasing arms is not the policy the public expects of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the eve of the anniversary of her inauguration, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.

Tsai in a Reuters interview on Thursday said that her administration does not “rule out any items that would be meaningful to our defense and our defense strategy, and the F-35 is one such item,”

Tsai also said she does not “exclude the opportunity to call [US] President [Donald] Trump himself, but it depends on the needs of the situation and the US government’s consideration of regional affairs.”

KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director Tang Te-ming (唐德明) said Tsai’s remarks indicated that she is “still anticipating friendly moves on the US’ part and hoping that Washington could be leaning toward [Taiwan] when it comes to cross-strait affairs.”

She is hoping for another telephone call with Trump to improve her dismal approval ratings, as the telephone call in December last year helped her garner some popular support, Tang said.

“An arms purchase then is the perfect pretext for another Tsai-Trump call,” he said, adding that the price of the arms would be up to Washington when Taipei is on the receiving end of a political favor.

The KMT has to shoulder its responsibility as the main opposition party to call on Tsai to take into account the nation’s economic situation, “which leaves no room for it to be a spendthrift,” Tang said.

“Does Taiwan really need F-35s that cost more than US$100 million each and come with extremely high maintenance fees?” Tang asked.

He quoted Tsai as saying before the presidential election that a strategic national security plan has to be put in place before any arms purchases and asked whether this plan has been implemented with the support of both the ruling and opposition parties.

“Taiwanese would not want to see another burden on the nation’s economy just because [Tsai] wishes to suck up to the US and make a telephone call to Trump,” he said.

After Tsai urged China to show flexibility and a broader mindset, and to view cross-strait relations with a different perspective, Tang said the president, “probably due to her utter deSinicization,” forgot an old Chinese proverb that large states should treat small states with benevolence, while small states should face larger states with wisdom.

“Does the president not get which side — large or small — should be the one to show flexibility and deal with the relationship with more wisdom?” Tang asked.

“It is impossible [for Tsai] to make improvements to cross-strait relations if she will not face up to the key to the problem,” he said.

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