TAIPEI — An assessment report recently released by the U.S. Pentagon on China’s growing military strength serves as a reminder that Taiwan should boost its military power, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Saturday.
“(The report) is reminding us to reinforce our military preparedness,” according to a press statement released by the ministry shortly after Washington published an annual report on China’ steady military build-up and its possible military strategies regarding Taiwan.
Acknowledging the disparity in military power between Taiwan and China, the defense ministry said it will strive to establish a “small but strong and skillful military force” to handle possible conflicts.
In the meantime, the United States is urged to “help Taiwan establish an efficient military force with deterrent power,” by continuing to sell the island defensive weapons, the ministry said.
Providing Taiwan with defensive weapons is a long-standing policy of the United States under its Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and Six Assurances.
The TRA, enacted in 1979 when Washington decided to sever ties with Taipei, obliges the U.S. to help Taiwan defend itself.
In 1982, then U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan six assurances, which included a promise that the U.S. would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan.
Late Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of approving Taiwan’s request to buy 66 F-16 C/D jets and also backed plans now underway to upgrade Taiwan’s existing military aircraft.
Last September, the U.S. approved a US$5.85 billion arms sale package to upgrade the country’s 100 plus aging F-16 A/B planes, which have been in service for more than a decade. At that time, Washington said Taiwan’s request to procure F-16 C/Ds was under review.
Taiwan has been eager to procure new jets and enhance its defense capability amid concerns over China’s growing military strength.