Taiwan to become the largest client of American arms in next four years

Having spent US$ 540 million on procurement of American arms, Taiwan becomes the 8th largest client of American weapons in 2004, says a report of the US congress. In 2003 Taiwan listed the 10th with a signed contract value of US$ 390 million for weaponry procurement from the US, the Hong Kong based Wen Wei Po reports.

From 2000 to 2003, the US sold weapons worth US$ 4.5 bln to Taiwan, which made Taiwan the 3rd largest client of the US arms sales. From 1996 to 1999, Taiwan bought American arms worth US$ 7.2 bln, hence the 2nd largest buyer of US weapons.

Taiwan ranks the 3rd in recent three years

A report of the US-Taiwan Business Council indicates that the amount Taiwan spends on weapon procurement from the US will exceed US$ 35.4 bln within next 10 to 15 years, and it will become the largest client of American arms in next four years. This figure is not included in Taiwan's defense budget, e.g. spending on purchase of CM-32 light armored vehicles, ground-to-ground missiles, pilotless aircraft, pilotless combat aircrafts, etc.

The huge budget for arms procurement has aroused oppugn among the public in Taiwan. Recently the media exposed a stunning dope, saying that more than half of Taiwan's US$ 19 bln funds for arm purchase were not used on arms, but to secretly finance the US troops to station on a small island near Taiwan- the Shimoji Island

The public raises doubt over the arms purchase

President Bush announced to sell a series of weapons to Taiwan in April 2001. Eight diesel-engine submarines costed US$ 4.671 bln (150 bln new Taiwan dollars); twelve P3C anti-submarine aircrafts sold at US$ 1.246 bln (40 bln new Taiwan dollars); three sets of "patriot 3" missile sold at US$ 2.803 bln (90 bln new Taiwan dollars); the total cost was US$ 8.72 bln (280 bln new Taiwan dollars). However, just three years later, the price of same weapons has risen by US$ 10.277 bln to US$ 19.022 bln (610.8 bln new Taiwan dollars).

The most doubtful thing is that the US has not given details of the arms sales so far, e.g. type of submarine. The production of P3C anti-submarine aircraft is now suspended. Will the production line be reopened? Will the US sell P3B, or secondhand P3C to Taiwan instead? The answer is still not known. What is more, the Taiwan authority is very eager to complete such a dubious deal, and its army is more determined to "take everything the US sells ".

By People's Daily Online

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