Visiting U.S. congresswoman seeking weapons for Taiwan
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, May 22 (CNA) Visiting U.S. congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told students in Taipei Tuesday that she and some Congress members are pushing the Barack Obama administration to give Taiwan better military weapons to protect itself.
Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that she and some members of Congress want Taiwan to have "the best protection possible" because they know that Taiwan "is not an aggressive military power" and is seeking only to defend itself against an aggressor.
"We think you did not get that (best protection) with the kind of F16 (fighter jets) that were promised to you and we are pushing the administration to go better and to get you the kind of sophisticated technologies and fighter jets you need, along with the diesel submarines you have requested," said the congresswoman.
She was responding to a question from a college student on whether the United States will sell F-35 stealth fighters to Taiwan at a meeting with over 20 college and graduate students in Taiwan
Ros-Lehtinen is heading a 21-member congressional delegation that is in Taiwan to discuss bilateral ties and to congratulate President Ma Ying-jeou on his inauguration to a second term.
At the meeting organized by the Los Angeles-based Formosa Foundation, which favors Taiwan self-determination, students asked questions ranging from U.S.-Taiwan relations and arms sales to the U.S. beef dispute and the possibility of signing a free trade agreement between Taiwan and the United States.
Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, who was also present at the meeting, expressed similar support for Taiwan to obtain the equipment it needs to protect itself.
"It's not just the F-16s that you need, but the hardware that updates them so that you can protect yourself to the fullest," said Schmidt. "As far as the F-35s, I'm open to anything that will help Taiwan protect itself."
Fu, Wei-che, a National Taiwan University student and member of the Taiwan Rural Front, which advocates the rights of the country's rural inhabitants, expressed hope that the U.S. government will stop pressuring Taiwan to import U.S. beef containing residue of the feed additive drug ractopamine, saying that the pressure shows that the U.S. is uncaring of the health of the Taiwanese people.
In response, Ros-Lehtinen said the U.S. has no intention of hurting Taiwan. She said she hopes the beef issue "will be resolved in a favorable way."
Meanwhile, the congresswoman also expressed concern that if Taiwan continues to engage economically with China, it "might run the risk of sacrificing the principle that has set you apart from so many of your neighbors," referring to the principles of democracy and freedom.
She said she does not believe that a transfer of power set to take place in China soon will bring about reform and she expressed belief that the new leadership will maintain the "same rigid control" over individuals' lives in China.
(By Christie Chen)
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