ARMS PROCUREMENT URGENT DUE TO CHINA'S MILITARY THREAT: VICE MINISTER
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 19 (CNA) Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-shian warned over the weekend of China's increased military threat against Taiwan, urging the Legislative Yuan to approve a major arms deal as soon as possible.
Tsai issued the warning Friday while giving a keynote speech on national defense at a roundtable forum held by the Institute of International Relations under National Chengchi University in Taichung City in central Taiwan.
Pointing out that China is engaged in a two-pronged strategy in its dealings with Taiwan, Tsai said that China has never eased its saber rattling aimed at Taiwan despite the fact that it invited main Taiwan opposition leaders -- Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong -- to visit in late April and early May in a bid to improve bilateral ties.
China has continued with its regular military exercises and has plans of conducting large-scale drills aimed at Taiwan this summer, a situation which Tsai said clearly underscores the urgent need for Taiwan to acquire necessary defensive weapons from the United States.
According to the vice minister of national defense, the military balance across the Taiwan Strait will gradually tilt in China's favor within three to five years, and it is estimated that China will be capable of invading Taiwan after 2012 if it keeps expanding its military at the current pace.
For the sake of the nation's interests and security, the public and the lawmakers should put aside their ideological differences and partisan interests to push for a quick passage of the major arms purchase plan and its budget bill at the Legislative Yuan, he urged.
The major military procurement plan put forward by the Executive Yuan has been stalled in the Legislative Yuan during the past two sessions due to boycotts by the KMT and the PFP.
The plan was originally estimated to cost Taiwan NT$610.8 billion over a 15-year period, but the price has been cut to some NT$480 billion (US$15.2 billion).
Items proposed by the Ministry of National Defense on the procurement list include eight diesel-fueled submarines, six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries and 12 P-3C anti-submarine airplanes.
Minister of National Defense Lee Jye has given assurances at the Legislative Yuan that the weapons will help Taiwan counter China's military threat for the next 30 years.
(By Flor Wang)
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