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Talk of the day -- News digest of local media -- Arms sales

ROC Central News Agency

2010/01/31 17:07:22

Washington announced the sale of US$6.4 billion worth ofdefensive arms to Taiwan Saturday, marking the first such salecommitted to by the Barack Obama administration.

The arms package, based on the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), willtake effect if the U.S. Congress does not voice any objections within30 days of the notification.

The package consists of 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, twoOsprey Class mine hunting ships, 114 Patriot Advanced Capability(PAC-3) missiles and 12 harpoon missiles and communication equipment,but it did not include the advanced F-16 C/D fighter planes anddiesel-electric submarines long sought by Taiwan.

Beijing immediately voiced "strong concerns" over the sales planand announced a deferral in China's military cooperation programswith the United States.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of theissue: China Times: State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Saturday that Chinahas always opposed U.S. military sales to Taiwan, but added that thislatest sales package complies with the "one China" policy stipulatedunder the three communiques that Washington and Beijing have forgedas well as the Taiwan Relations Act.

The approval of the sale was aimed at maintaining security andstability across the Taiwan Strait, Crowley said.

He added that Washington did not consult Beijing in advance butdid inform Chinese and Taiwanese authorities respectively beforenotifying Congress about the plan.

Liberty Times: President Ma Ying-jeou announced the news to the media aboard hisplane en route back to Taiwan from San Francisco after a whirlwindvisit to Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

He said the arms sale is conducive to better cross-straitrelations, explaining that the safer and more confident Taiwan feels,the more willing it will be to engage in closer interaction withChina.

Alexander Chieh-cheng Huang, a professor in Tamkang University'sInstitute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, said thelatest U.S. arms sales plan will help Taiwan meet its defensive needsbut called the package's lack of an assessment on buildingdiesel-electric submarines for Taiwan "regrettable." Noting that Taiwan's four submarines are all old, Huang saidTaiwan's naval preparedness will suffer if no new submarines areordered and built in time.

United Daily News: The arms sales package has no new significance since the Obamaadministration did not approve any weapons systems for Taiwan notalready approved by the previous administration.

Taiwan should not be too optimistic about its relations with theU.S. because of the approved sale. Instead, it might be a warningthat Washington has adopted a cross-strait policy of "distancing"itself from Taiwan and tilting toward China.

With this in mind, Taiwan's government should heighten the alertand chart a new strategy to regain the initiative with Washington oncross-strait issues.

(By Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/ls

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