Chen told Republican Senators Phil Gramm of Texas, Bob Bennett of Utah, Jim Bunning of Kentucky and Mike Crapo of Idaho that the weapons are necessary to help the island preserve a military balance with China.
"The cross-strait security not only serves the interests of Taiwan, but those of the United States," he told the delegation, which visited Taipei after an original scheduled visit to mainland China was nixed due to the stand-off between Beijing and Washington.
"China could achieve air and sea superiority over Taiwan by 2005," warned Chen.
There are growing fears that Taiwan may not be able to get the weapons it wants as the Bush Administration now takes a more cautious attitude after the spy plane collision or Beijing uses the incident to pressure Washington, observes said.
Several senators and representatives said Sunday that the recent incident over the spy plane has boosted Taiwan's chances for getting sophisticated weapons.
The most significant part of the arms deal is destroyers equipped with the Aegis radar system, which tracks missiles, aircraft, ships and submarines and programs weapons to hit them. Taiwan is also seeking to buy Apache attack helicopters, an advanced Patriot anti-missile system known as PAC-3, and submarines.
A decision by the Bush administration about whether to sell Taiwan the weapons is slated for later this month.
China and Taiwan split in 1949. Since then, the Chinese leaders have insisted that Taiwan is part of the mainland and cannot be separate.
Copyright 2001 by United Press International.
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