Taiwan Opposition Candidate, in US, Promises Moderate China Policy

Posted September 14th, 2011 at 1:25 am (UTC-5)
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Taiwan's opposition presidential candidate is appealing for the United States to sell the island F-16 jets, but said on a visit to Washington that her party will seek good relations with China if returned to power.

Tsai Ing-wen, who is challenging President Ma Jing-jeou in elections scheduled for January, told a Washington audience Tuesday that Taiwan's bid to purchase 66 advanced jet fighters is essential for the island's defense.

She also said Taiwan must do a better job of preparing for its own defense.

Tsai also acknowledged there was a “rough period” in relations between Taiwan and the mainland when her independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party was last in power from 2000 to 2008. She said if she is elected in January, her government's policy toward China will be stable and balanced and will avoid radical approaches.

She said her party has matured as Taiwan's democracy has developed, and her party is better prepared than ever to govern.

She also said that if elected she would continue to pursue mutually beneficial trade relations with China.

Tsai, whose U.S. visit includes campaign stops among Taiwanese-American voters, was speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank.

Some conservative members of the U.S. Congress are pressing the Obama administration to sell the fighter aircraft to Taiwan in spite of warnings from China that such a sale would damage U.S.-Chinese relations.

China says Taiwan must eventually be reunited with China, by force if necessary.

Press reports have said the United States will instead offer to upgrade Taiwan's existing fleet of F-16s. A decision is due next month.