Sept 22 - The United States announces plans of a potential upgrade of Taiwan's fleet of fighter jets despite Chinese opposition. Marie-Claire reports.
The Obama administration has notified the US congress of a potential 5.3 billion dollar upgrade of Taiwan's aging fleet of fighter jets. The upgrade of the 145 F-16s will give them essentially the same capabilities as late-model F-16 C/Ds that Taiwan has sought for five years without success. China has condemned the retrofit, warning it will damage military and security ties with the US. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER SPOKESMAN HONG LEI SAYING: "The Chinese government and people strongly opposes it. The mistakes made by the U.S. inevitably hurt bilateral relations and cooperation in military and security of the two countries. The U.S. takes full responsibility for that." Taiwan's minister of national defence welcomed the upgrade. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENCE, KAO HUA-CHU, SAYING: "The approval of the arms sales is a significant breakthrough, it not only improves our air defence capacity, but also positively helps our national security. It is also a milestone for the good relations between Taiwan and the United States." China considers Taiwan a breakaway province to be reunified with the mainland eventually, and by force if necessary. Washington says it wants Beijing and Taipei to determine their future peacefully, and that it is obliged by law to help the island defend itself. Marie-Claire Fennessy, Reuters