Taiwan eyes more US weapons: Report

Taiwan plans to buy torpedoes and heavy tanks to boost defence capabilities.

Taipei: Taiwan plans to buy US-made torpedoes and heavy tanks to boost its defence capabilities despite the thaw in ties between the island and mainland China, it was reported on Monday.

President Ma Ying-jeou has ordered the Defence Ministry to draft a shopping list which includes MK-54 torpedoes, dozens of M1A2 tanks and amphibious landing vehicles, the Liberty Times said.

If acquired, the MK-54s will be used to replace the Navy`s ageing MK-46s, it said.

The ministry said the procurement list had not yet been finalised.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased significantly since President Ma of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in Taiwan in 2008, pledging to boost trade links and allow in more Chinese tourists.

Yet Beijing still refuses to rule out the use of force against Taiwan should it declare formal independence, prompting the island to seek more defensive weapons.

The island has governed itself since it split from the mainland in 1949 at the end of China`s civil war.

Local media have said that China has increased its missiles aimed at Taiwan from 300 in 2001 to 1,400 in 2008.

Washington announced in January a weapons package for Taiwan that includes Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, and equipment for Taiwan`s F-16 fleet, but no submarines or new fighter aircraft.

Beijing reacted angrily to the arms deal, saying it would cut military and security contacts with the United States.

Bureau Report

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