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pentagon threatens taiwan over weapons purchase

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  • Greg Cannon
    Taiwan Says U.S. Ties to Suffer if Arms Deal Fails http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20041006/wl_nm/arms_taiwan_usa_dc&e=1&ncid= TAIPEI
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2004
      Taiwan Says U.S. Ties to Suffer if Arms Deal Fails


      TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan's Foreign Minister warned
      lawmakers on Wednesday that ties with Washington would
      be hurt if parliament failed to approve an $18 billion
      budget to buy advanced U.S. weapons.

      Mark Chen, the minister, spoke after the Pentagon
      (news - web sites)'s top policymaker for Asia said
      passage of the budget was a litmus test in U.S. eyes.

      "If the Legislative Yuan fails to pass this budget, it
      will be much harder to convince foreign partners to
      support your defense," Richard Lawless, a deputy U.S.
      under secretary of defense, said in remarks delivered
      on Monday and released by the Pentagon on Wednesday.

      "Friends and foes alike will begin to regard Taiwan as
      a liability, rather than a partner," he said. "Make no
      mistake, the passage of this budget is a litmus test
      of Taiwan's commitment to its self-defense -- for
      Washington and Beijing."

      Earlier on Wednesday, Chen told lawmakers any
      rejection of the arms deal "will affect the foundation
      of mutual trust between Taiwan and the United States."

      The issue drew thousands of protesters into the
      streets last month. Opposition lawmakers, who hold a
      slim majority in parliament, say the weapons are too
      expensive. Lawmakers are due to consider the package
      in coming weeks.

      Lawless's remarks reflected U.S. frustration over
      delays in funding the purchase of six batteries of
      Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile defenses, 12
      P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft and eight
      diesel-electric submarines.

      In April 2001, President Bush (news - web sites)
      offered to help Taiwan acquire the submarines and
      approved the possible sale of the Lockheed Martin
      Corp.-built anti-submarine aircraft as part of the
      biggest weapons package in a decade.

      "Many in the United States and in the world have
      questioned Taiwan's commitment to its defense and if
      the budget fails to pass, I fear they will be proven
      right," Lawless said.

      He spoke at a defense industry conference in
      Scottsdale, Arizona, the third in a series organized
      by the private U.S.-Taiwan Business Council.

      "If you hear a sense of urgency in my words, it is
      because the situation in the (Taiwan) strait is dire,"
      Lawless said.

      In addition to Taiwan's vulnerability to short-range
      missiles, he said Beijing was "actively pursuing
      tactics to create chaos on the island," for instance
      by preparing to shut down telecommunications,
      utilities, broadcast media, cellular links, computer
      networks and other infrastructure.

      Beijing has viewed Taiwan as a breakaway province
      since a civil war in 1949. Taiwan's president, Chen
      Shui-bian, has called the U.S. weapons critical to
      counter China's buildup.

      Under a 1979 law under which it shifted diplomatic
      recognition, the United States is obligated to help
      Taiwan acquire the arms necessary to defend itself.

      Lawless said Taiwan should look at additional systems
      to counter China's "increasingly lethal" threat
      assuming the special budget was enacted by parliament.

      Among these are upper tier missile defense systems,
      more advanced destroyers with sophisticated air
      defense systems and the next generation of fighter
      aircraft, he said.

      (Additional reporting by Jim Wolf in Washington)
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