President optimistic about U.S. arms sales
Sunday, August 31, 2008
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou expressed optimism for the first time yesterday about the p
ossibility of the United States giving the green light for the sale of a package of weapon systems to Taiwan.
In recent weeks, Ma has repeatedly taken advantage of his meetings with visiting American congressional members and think tank scholars to urge the U.S. government to quickly approve the sale of seven categories of weapons that Taiwan intends to buy.
Addressing a gathering of retired generals yesterday to mark the upcoming Armed Forces Day and Mid-Autumn Festival, Ma said that judging from recent developments, he is convinced that the United States will give a nod to Taiwan's arms procurement bid in the not too distant future.
"Recent signs show that the U.S. administrative department would notify Congress of its approval of our arms procurement package that covers seven types of weaponry," Ma told his audience.
The pending items are anti-tank missiles, Apache helicopters, Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries, diesel-powered submarines, P3C anti submarine aircraft and sea-launched Harpoon missiles and Black Eagle helicopters.
In his speech, Ma also said that recent improvements in relations across the Taiwan Strait should by no means be interpreted as a government attempt to give up efforts to enhance the country's defense capabilities.
Emphasizing the importance of honing the military's combat prowess and improving its defense arsenal, Ma said combat preparedness is not to wage war, but rather to deter war.
"Only with powerful defense muscle can we negotiate with strength in future cross-strait talks, " Ma explained, adding that Taiwan cannot afford to negotiate with weak military capabilities.
While Taiwan is more than willing to champion cross-strait reconciliation and pursue permanent peace on both the military and diplomatic fronts, Ma said, such lofty goals cannot be realized unilaterally.
Noting that upholding peace is at the core of commemorating the country's Sept. 3 Armed Forces Day, Ma said his administration will not miss any opportunity or possibility to advance or maintain permanent cross-strait peace.