Washington, Sept. 14 (CNA) Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen beseeched the United States Congress to support arms sales to Taiwan Wednesday during a speech at Capitol Hill.
Tsai made the remarks during a welcome reception in the U.S. Congress organized by the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA), a non-profit organization active in promoting Taiwan's independence.
U.S. congressional supporters of the Taiwan arms sales deal attended the meeting, including Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, (R-Fla), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen introduced new legislation Wednesday to strengthen the Taiwan-U.S. alliance by requesting the U.S. government allow the sale of F-16C/D fighter jets to Taiwan. The main purposes are to increase the island's defense capabilities and boost trade between the two countries.
The bill also recommends the U.S. government schedule ministerial-level visits between the two countries, and visa waiver for Taiwanese travelers to the U.S.
According to an AFP report, Ros-Lehtinen's bill allows the sale of 66 F-16 fighter jets, as well as other weapons such as surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft defense systems and drones.
"To protect national interests in the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. has to provide Taiwan with the capability to defend itself from an attack from China, as requested by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "China must not be allowed to dictate U.S. Policy in the Pacific."
A Defense News report analysis said Ros-Lehtinen's bill, along with other bills supporting Taiwan, are aimed at getting U.S. President Barack Obama to approve an arms deal worth US$8 billion.
In her speech, Tsai also hoped the U.S. government would support Taiwan arms sales and provide Taiwan with advanced weapon systems.
Taiwanese people are familiar with two U.S. legal documents, the first is the "Declaration of Independence" and the second is the "Taiwan Relations Act (TRA)," Tsai said.
Due to the efforts of Taiwan and friends in the U.S. Congress, articles regarding the island's security were included in the TRA, safeguarding the country's safety for so many years, Tsai added.
Taiwanese are grateful for the long-term support U.S. congressmen have shown, and the efforts they have made to ensure the U.S. government keeps its promise to maintain Taiwan's security, Tsai said.
Other congressmen attending the reception included Steve Chabot (R-OH), chairman of Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Howard Berman (D-CA), former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Robert Andrews (D-NJ).