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Central News Agency

2005-06-15 15:23:32

    Taipei, June 15 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense turned down Wednesday a request by an opposition lawmaker that the military send a Knox-class frigate on June 17 to waters near a disputed part of the East China Sea to flex Taiwan's muscle against Japan.

    Ministry spokesman Liu Chih-chien said the military has no plans to do so because most available military forces have been deployed to take part in the "Hankuang 21" exercises.

    Liu said the three frigates already deployed by the military near the disputed waters should be sufficient to serve the purpose.

    Opposition People First Party Legislator Lin Yu-fang, a co-convener of the legislature's National Defense Committee, made the request in the wake of a serious conflict breaking out last week in waters off Taiwan's northeast coast between Taiwanese fishermen and the Japanese coast guard following the latest expulsion of Taiwanese fishermen from the area.

    The incident occurred in an area of the East China Sea where the exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and Japan overlap.

    Lin claimed that Japan is "much more polite" to Chinese and South Korean fishermen operating in the same waters and doesn't dare arbitrarily expel them.

    Blaming the situation on the "long-time cowardice" of the government of Taiwan, Lin urged the military to get tough with Japan to boost Taiwan's leverage, especially when both countries are set to open a new round of fishery talks in July.

    Lin said he will go ahead with his fact-finding sail to an area near the disputed waters on June 17 regardless of the Ministry of National Defense's request for him to postpone the trip on the grounds that the timing is too sensitive.

    He also threatened to block the ministry's NT$480 billion U.S. arms procurement package and cut the ministry's annual budget by at least NT$50 billion if the ministry refuses to send a Knox-class frigate to accompany him on the trip.

(By Y.F. Low)


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