News / Asia

Taiwan Presses US for Fighter Jets, Notes Progress in Ties with China

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a press conference in Taipei, May 10, 2011
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a press conference in Taipei, May 10, 2011
William Ide

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has again pressed the United States to sell the island F-16 fighter jets and other military equipment, saying that such weapons help Taiwan level the playing field in its negotiations with China.  Speaking in Washington by video-link, Ma outlined the ways he says Taiwan's policies toward China are helping improve bilateral relations.

Since coming to office nearly three years ago, President Ma Ying-jeou has made improving Taiwan's relations with China a top priority.  He says his administration has made major strides in improving ties with China, especially in trade, tourism and cultural exchanges.

But Ma said Thursday that negotiating with China is not without its risks.

"The right leverage must be in place, otherwise Taiwan cannot credibly maintain an equal footing at the negotiating table," noted Ma.  "This is why I continue to urge the U.S. to provide Taiwan with necessary defensive weaponry, such as F-16 C/Ds and diesel-powered submarines."

China opposes any sale of arms to Taiwan and frequently demands that the United States end its weapons sales to the island.  China and Taiwan split after a civil war brought the Communist Party to power in Beijing in 1949.  Beijing insists that the self-ruled island is part of its territory and has threatened to use military force against it, if Taiwan seeks formal independence.

Last year, after U.S. President Barack Obama announced the sale of a $6.4 billion arms package to Taiwan, which included Patriot missiles and Black Hawk helicopters, Beijing suspended military ties with Washington.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is obligated to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons systems.  Some military analysts say the F-16 fighter jet deal now under review by the Obama administration is being sidelined by concerns about how it would affect Sino-American relations.

In his video-link address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington, President Ma repeated a point that U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made that the United States can help itself by helping others defend themselves.

"In the end, only a strong U.S. commitment, backed by its credibility in East Asia, can guarantee the peace and stability of this region," added Ma.

Ma added that although the recent global economic downturn has affected Taiwan's defense budget, the island has earmarked more funds this year to help achieve its goal of creating a small but strong military and to purchase much-needed weapons systems.

One of the reasons Taiwan's economy is doing better, Ma said, is the policies his administration has implemented that have boosted trade and tourism with China.

"The arrival of nearly three million mainland Chinese visitors - up nearly 10 times - has created a tourism boom in Taiwan," Ma said.  "The increase in cross-[Taiwan] strait trade has also boosted Taiwan's total trade volume to a record high of $526 billion in 2010."

But critics in Taiwan argue that Ma's policies make Taipei overly reliant on Beijing, which they say has only one goal, to force Taiwan to unify with the mainland.  They also note that the improvement in bilateral ties has not substantially changed the way China treats Taiwan on the international stage.

Ma acknowledged that talks focusing on the political divide between Taiwan and China have yet to begin, but he noted that the agreements with China are helping to boost regional and global trade.

During the first quarter of this year, he said, trade with China increased by 15 percent, and trade rose by more that 30 percent with ASEAN member countries and the United States.  President Ma said that although it might seem ironic that other countries are benefiting from closer ties between Taipei and Beijing, that is exactly what Taiwan wants.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More