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As the United States' highest representative to Taiwan visits the country, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is requesting to purchase new fighter aircraft from the United States. While economic ties between Taiwan and Mainland China have become closer in recent years, it seems defense is still a big issue for Taiwan.
Days after Chinese leader Hu Jintao leaves Washington, Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou is again calling on the United States to supply Taiwan with fighter aircraft.
The U.S. approved a $6.4-billion U.S.-dollar arms deal last year, to supply weapons to Taiwan. But the deal left out the F-16 fighter aircraft the Taiwanese government had originally requested.
Taiwanese officials acknowledge that the Chinese regime has now tipped the balance in terms of military capability across the Taiwan strait. Taiwan is eager to modernize its military and has been attempting to buy new combat aircraft since 2006.
President Ma addressed the issue at a meeting with Raymond Burghardt, the United States' top representative to Taiwan. Burghardt was in visiting Taiwan to brief Ma about Hu Jintao's recent visit to the United States.
[Ma Ying-jeou, President of Taiwan]:
"There has been a military imbalance over the strait for a long time—that is our common concern. The Taiwanese have looked forward to F16 C/D fighters. We also hope to get diesel-electric submarines, not to enlarge our military hardware but to renew it. We have some old fighters and submarines which are a disadvantage in Taiwanese defense."
Taiwan split from China in 1949, when communist forces conquered the Mainland. However the Chinese Communist regime still regards Taiwan as its territory and currently has over one thousand nine hundred missiles aimed at the island. The Chinese regime is seeking unification and blocks any development towards formal independence for the island.