The Presidential Office is thankful that the US government sent an official notification on Friday to Congress on the sale of five major packages of weaponry to Taiwan, officials said yesterday, adding that the move signaled a new era of mutual trust between Taiwan and the US.
“The notification of the US government put an end to the turbulence of the past eight years and rebuilds mutual trust between the US and Taiwan,” Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chih (王郁琦) said yesterday.
Wang said in a news conference that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had expressed his appreciation, welcomed the decision and was glad to see US President George W. Bush stand by Washington’s commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act.
The Ma administration has sought to defend the country’s sovereignty and security while rebuilding trust between Taiwan and the US, Wang said.
The administration will continue to make efforts to improve US-Taiwan relations while promoting a peaceful cross-strait relationship, Wang said.
On the notification’s rejection of two of Taiwan’s seven requested weapons systems — diesel-electric submarines and Black Hawk helicopters — Wang said the US government said it did not refuse the sale of the two items but was still considering approving the two items.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday said the US government’s action showed that US-Taiwan relations would only improve under the Ma administration.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also lauded the arms deal in a press release, saying that it serves as evidence of the strong relations between Taipei and Washington.
At a separate setting, Ministry of National Defense spokeswoman Lisa Chi (池玉蘭) told a press conference yesterday that the ministry would sign a letter of acceptance (LOA) on arms sales by the US as soon as possible.
The ministry will sign the LOA as soon as the US completes the procedure for the arms sales, Chi said.
Chi said the ministry hoped the US government would deliver the remaining two items to Congress for approval by the end of this year, because soon after then, the budget appropriated by the Legislative Yuan for the arms procurement would expire.
If the budget expired, the ministry would have to reintroduce its budget proposal. The ministry would continue to communicate with the US on the unapproved items, she said.
Addressing the total budget of around US$6.5 billion for the five accepted items, Chi said the ministry began this year budgeting for the systems excluding the anti-tank missiles, which would be part of next year’s budget.
While the ministry has to wait for about 50 working days to sign the LOA, it was possible the total cost for the arms procurement would change because of possible fluctuations in currency values and commodity prices, Chi said.
The US arms sale would not only help strengthen Taiwan’s self-defense capability, but would also play a role in the stability of the Taiwan Strait and the development of cross-strait relations. It also satisfied US policy regarding the “status quo” in the Strait, Chi said.
The Democratic Progressive Party caucus yesterday expressed concern over the scale of the smaller-than-expected package approved by the US administration.
DPP caucus whip William Lai (賴清德) said that rather than hailing the approval of the package as a sign of improved US-Taiwan ties, the Ma administration should be wary of the fact that the package was smaller than expected and be vigilant against the possibility that it was a sign of change in relations between the two countries.
Lai called on Ma’s administration not to interpret the approved package as “a new beginning, but instead as a new variable” in US-Taiwan ties.
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