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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid