Taiwan to continue building streamlined, sturdy defense: president
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, May 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated Taiwan's goal to build a streamlined but sturdy defense force, in his inaugural address Sunday at the start of his second term in office.
To achieve a strong defense, Taiwan should adopt an "innovative and asymmetrical" military strategy and establish a streamlined and sturdy defense force, Ma said.
In the next four years, Taiwan will also continue to purchase weapons of a defensive nature that it cannot manufacture itself, he said.
The president noted that since he first took office in May 2008, the United States has approved three arms sales to Taiwan at a total value of US$18.3 billion, which he said will give Taiwan confidence to go forward in its dealings with China.
"This provides us with an appropriate defensive force in the future that will give the government and public greater confidence and willingness to pursue continued stable and solid development of the cross-strait relationship," he added.
Meanwhile, the use of cross-strait rapprochement to achieve peace with China is equally important in ensuring Taiwan's national security, Ma said.
Despite the warming ties with China in recent years, Taiwan is still facing a growing military threat from China, including more than 1,000 Chinese missiles targeting the island, according to a recent U.S. Pentagon report.
Last September, the U.S. approved a US$5.85 billion package for the upgrade of Taiwan's 100 plus aging F-16 A/B jet fighters, which have been in service for more than a decade. At that time, Washington said Taiwan's request to procure F-16 C/Ds was under review.
Taiwan is still eager to procure new jets to replace its aging fleet.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of approving Taiwan's request to buy 66 F-16 C/D jets. The proposal will be sent to the Senate.
In response, Taiwan's defense ministry expressed gratitute for the U.S. House support for the country's security efforts.
The ministry said that after the retrofit of the F-16 A/B fleet, some functions of the aircraft would be more advanced than on the F-16 C/Ds, therefore, Taiwan will reassess the need for the more advanced fighter jets.
(By Elaine Hou)
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