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Tuesday, 13 March, 2001, 15:16 GMT
US report urges Taiwan arms sales
Chinese soldiers on guard
China recently announced a big boost in military spending
By Hong Kong correspondent Damien Grammaticas

A report for the United States Senate is urging Washington to sell advanced military equipment to Taiwan so the island can counter a growing threat from China.

US destroyer
Taiwan wants to buy US destroyers
The assessment of Taiwan's military needs comes just a matter of days before China sends its Vice Premier, Qian Qichen, to Washington.

China bitterly opposes the sale of any weapons to Taiwan and Mr Qian will be urging President Bush not to approve the deal.

According to the report, Taiwan is in desperate need of new and better weapons to protect itself against Beijing's military build-up.

China now has hundreds of missiles targeted at the island which it views as a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland.

Military links

The report, by an aide to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, says Taiwan needs destroyers equipped with the advanced Aegis system to deal with the rapidly growing air and naval threats from China.


We demand the US side... stop such sales to prevent relations being jeopardised

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao

It adds Taiwan should have longer range weapons, early warning capabilities and direct communications links between its military and US forces.

The report has already proved controversial. Democrats on the committee have said it doesn't reflect their views and it will anger China.

America has a legal obligation to sell defensive weapons to Taiwan because of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act.

In April, a Taiwanese delegation is expected in Washington to discuss the arms deal.

Destroyers

For three years now Taiwan has been asking to buy the Aegis destroyers.

They cost almost $1bn each and have a radar that can track 100 targets simultaneously.

The island would also like to buy four Kidd Class destroyers, diesel powered submarines, anti submarine aircraft and anti radar missiles.

President Bush's decision will be the first major test of his policy towards China.

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See also:

06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China warns Bush over Taiwan
21 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Taiwan's relations with China
05 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Historic China-Taiwan trip
06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Military funding reflects China's fears
06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing fetes country cousins
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