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President Ma renews call for U.S. to sell Taiwan F-16s

President Ma renews call for U.S. to sell Taiwan F-16 C/D jet fighters

President Ma Ying-jeou on Tuesday repeated his call for the United States to sell Taiwan advanced F-16 C/D jet fighters, saying Taiwan would become confident enough to deepen relations with China only when it has adequate defense capabilities.

Ma made the call after conferring the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon on former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who was visiting Taiwan for the Republic of China's centennial National Day celebrations.

Paying tribute to Rumsfeld's legendary political career and life achievements, Ma said he recognized the former U.S. official's support for the ROC's national cause and contribution to global anti-terrorist efforts.

Touching on relations across the Taiwan Strait, Ma said maintaining peaceful development is a key policy of his administration.

"On the one hand, we have adopted a 'no unification, no independence, no use of force' policy to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, but on the other, we have never overlooked the importance of safeguarding our national security," Ma said.

Therefore, while promoting reconciliation and rapprochement with mainland China, Taiwan will continue to strengthen its longstanding cooperation with the United States in military and security affairs, he said. "Taiwan-U.S. cooperation could only grow in the future."

While expressing his gratitude to the U.S. government for its recent decision to help upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of 146 F-16 A/B jet fighters, Ma again urged the United States to give a favorable reply soon to Taiwan's request to buy 66 advanced F-16 C/Ds to meet its defense needs.

"Wishful thinking alone cannot achieve peace," he said. "We need enough defense ability to ensure our national security."

Ma also took advantage of the occasion to explain his administration's stance on the "1992 Consensus," a tacit understanding reached by Beijing and Taiwan's Kuomintang government in the early 1990s that there is only one "China" and that each side is free to interpret what "one China" means.

"For us, the 'one China' refers to the Republic of China," he said. "This policy is in line with the ROC Constitution and mainstream public opinion."

Rumsfeld, who arrived in Taipei on Sunday, attended a luncheon held by the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation on Tuesday, during which he delivered a speech titled "21st Century Challenges in the Pacific and Beyond."

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