Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

U.S. senator urges Taiwan to increase defense budget

ROC Central News Agency

2013/02/09 20:50:23

Washington, Feb. 8 (CNA) Taiwan needs to increase its defense budget, as members of the U.S. Congress are pushing the Obama administration to sell F-16 C/D multirole jet fighters to Taiwan, U.S. Senator John Cornyn said in a statement Friday.

Taiwan 'must find the political will' to increase its defense budget, said Cornyn, a long-term supporter of Taiwan, in a prepared statement for a Friday seminar on shoring up Taipei-Washington ties.

Cornyn said he has been 'disappointed that Taiwan seems to have backed off of its pursuit of new F-16s, especially after so many of its friends in Congress went out on a limb to help them.'

'Taiwan needs to wake up and realize that, as the threat from China grows, so grows Taiwan's vulnerability,' Cornyn said in the statement for the seminar held by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation.

He also urged Taiwan to aggressively and consistently advocate for its own interests, so that the U.S. Congress can continue to press for the sale of F-16s and other advanced weapons in an effort to counter the threat from China.

Describing himself as a strong believer in the U.S.-Taiwan strategic partnership, Cornyn said 'the foundation of this relationship continues to be the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).'

He said this is why he has been pushing the U.S. government to sell Taiwan new F-16 C/D aircraft.

Cornyn is a Republican senator representing the state of Texas, where the production line of F-16 fighters is located.

In 2011, he and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) sponsored a bill that would have required U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to sell no fewer than 66 new F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan.

Taiwan has been lobbying for a long time to purchase F-16 C/Ds from the U.S., but the Obama administration decided in September 2011 to offer Taiwan a retrofit package for its aging F-16 A/B fleet rather than new F-16 C/Ds.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 after the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, obliges the U.S. to help Taiwan defend itself.

(By Tony Liao and Elaine Hou)
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