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U.S. arms sales help Taiwan maintain self-defense: defense ministry

U.S. arms sales help Taiwan maintain self-defense: defense ministry

Taipei, Dec. 20 (CNA) U.S. arms sales to Taiwan help bolster its defense capabilities, a Taiwanese defense official said Saturday, in response to China's protest against a U.S. decision to sell four warships to the island. In line with the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Six Assurances, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will also help maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, said Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he, spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense. "The weapons procurement is to bolster Taiwan's self-defense capabilities," he said when asked to comment on the issue. He added that U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are important and necessary. Although cross-Taiwan Strait ties have improved by a great deal in recent years, China has not renounced the use of force against Taiwan. China expressed firm opposition on Friday, one day after U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a bill authorizing the sale of up to four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taiwan, according to China's state media Xinhua News Agency. "It brutally interferes with China's internal affairs, sabotages China's sovereignty and security interests, and runs counter to the trend of peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait," said China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang at a daily press briefing. Qin said the Taiwan issue concerns China's core interests and has always been the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations. On Friday, Luo expressed his ministry's gratitude to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. government for their support. Taiwan has budgeted about NT$5.5 billion (US$174.8 million) to purchase two of the Perry-class frigates, and the Navy will review its combat needs to decide whether to buy more of the Perry-class frigates in the future, Luo said. The TRA was enacted in 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character." In 1982, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan six assurances, which included that the U.S. will not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan; will not alter the terms of the TRA; and will not consult with China before making decisions about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. (By Elaine Hou)