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$8B Aid Package to Taiwan Welcomed     04/23 06:14

   An $8 billion defense package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives 
over the weekend will "strengthen the deterrence against authoritarianism in 
the West Pacific ally chain," Taiwan's President-elect Lai Ching-te said 
Tuesday, in a reference to key rival China.

   TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) -- An $8 billion defense package approved by the U.S. 
House of Representatives over the weekend will "strengthen the deterrence 
against authoritarianism in the West Pacific ally chain," Taiwan's 
President-elect Lai Ching-te said Tuesday, in a reference to key rival China.

   The funding will also "help ensure peace and stability across the Taiwan 
Strait and also boost confidence in the region" Lai, currently Taiwan's vice 
president, told visiting Michigan Representatives Lisa McClain, a Republican, 
and Democrat Dan Kildee at a meeting at the Presidential Office Building in the 
capital Taipei.

   In the face of "authoritarian expansionism," Taiwan is "determined to 
safeguard democracy and also safeguard our homeland," Lai said.

   Also known as William Lai, U.S.-educated former medical researcher is 
despised by Beijing for his opposition to political unification with the 
mainland. In recent elections, the pro-unification Nationalists won a narrow 
majority in the legislature, but their influence on foreign policy and other 
national issues remains limited.

   The Senate will vote Tuesday on $95 billion in war aid to Ukraine, Israel 
and Taiwan.

   The package covers a wide range of parts and services aimed at maintaining 
and and upgrading Taiwan's military hardware. Separately, Taiwan has signed 
billions in contracts with the U.S. for latest-generation F-16V fighter jets, 
M1 Abrams main battle tanks and the HIMARS rocket system, which the U.S. has 
also supplied to Ukraine.

   Taiwan has also been expanding its own defense industry, building submarines 
and trainer jets. Next month it plans to commission its third and fourth 
domestically designed and built stealth corvettes to counter the Chinese navy. 
as part of a strategy of asymmetrical warfare in which a smaller force counters 
its larger opponent by using cutting edge or nonconventional tactics and 
weaponry.

   Lai, of the pro-independence ruling Democratic Progressive Party, won the 
January election handily and takes over next month from President Tsai Ing-wen, 
whom Beijing has sought to isolate for the past eight years.

   China is determined to annex the island, which it considers its own 
territory, by force if necessary and has been advertising that threat with 
daily incursions into waters and air space around Taiwan by navy ships and 
warplanes. It has also sought to pick away Taiwan's few remaining formal 
diplomatic partners.

   While Washington and Taipei have no formal diplomatic ties in deference to 
Beijing, McClain emphasized the need for the entire world to observe the 
strength of the relationship.

   "Peace is our goal. But to do that, we have to have relationships and we 
value your relationship. Not only militarily, but economically," she said.

   Kildee said the timing of the visit was especially significant given the 
recent passage of the funding bill to "provide very important support to insure 
security in this region."

   "It's important for the people of Taiwan, it's important for the people in 
the United States, it's important for the entire world," Kildee said.

 
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