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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid