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Thread: Thousands In Taiwan March To Back U.S. Arms Deal

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Thousands In Taiwan March To Back U.S. Arms Deal

    Thousands in Taiwan march to back US arms deal

    Sun Sep 25, 2005 8:29 AM BST
    By Alice Hung

    TAIPEI (Reuters) - Thousands of Taiwan people, mostly from pro-independence groups, marched through the streets of Taipei on Sunday to back a US$11 billion special arms budget aimed at fending off China but blocked by the parliament.

    Even though the government slashed the budget from $18 billion to $15 billion and finally $11 billion, the opposition parties, with a slim majority in parliament, said the advanced weapons were still too expensive, unnecessary and against the people's wishes.

    Holding banners and chanting "Strength in defence, safeguard Taiwan", the marchers walked to the presidential palace in the island's capital under sunny skies.

    "We Taiwanese people can't be bullied by the Chinese," said a 52-year-old housewife.

    China views Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened to attack the democratic island if it pushes for formal statehood. Many security analysts see the Taiwan Strait as one of Asia's most dangerous flashpoints.

    The special budget is earmarked for eight diesel-electric submarines and 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft.

    The government dropped six anti-missile Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) batteries from the deal, although it still plans to buy the systems using the defence ministry's regular budget.

    "If we don't give our soldiers the most advanced weapons, how are they supposed to fight China and defend Taiwan?" said pro-independence activist Ng Chiautong who organised the march.

    "We must be willing to pay for the weapons for our own defence and we must be confident Taiwan will not lose," Ng said.

    Organisers estimated the march turnout at more than 10,000.

    The United States first offered the arms deal in 2001 but it has been postponed by opposition parties which favour closer ties with China.

    The delay has fuelled worries in Washington that Taipei is not serious about its own defence. The United States recognises Beijing's "one China" policy but is also obliged by the Taiwan Relations Act to help Taipei defend itself.

    U.S. Defence Security Cooperation Agency director Edward Ross has said the arms package has become a "political football" in Taiwan and warned that Washington may not come to Taiwan's aid if the island cannot defend itself.

    President Chen Shui-bian, visiting Central America, blasted the opposition parties for blocking the budget to please Beijing.

    "At a time when the balance of military power is tilting in China's favour, isn't it true that we need the weapons more than anything else?" Chen said in comments broadcast by Taiwan cable news networks.

    In the past Chen has emphasised the threat from China, pointing to double-digit growth of its military budget and the positioning of between 650 and 730 missiles aimed at Taiwan as highlighted recently in the Pentagon's annual report on China's military.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    PhilosophyGenius Guest
    Looks like war.

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