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President Chen Meets with with Carl-Dieter Spranger, Vice Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament

Taipei, May 2 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Wednesday he looks forward to seeing Germany cooperate with the United States in helping the Republic of China build eight diesel-powered submarines to beef up Taiwan's naval defense capabilities. 

Chen made the remarks while meeting with Carl-Dieter Spranger, vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag (parliament), who is currently on a six-day visit to Taiwan.

Chen told his guest that although the United States has agreed to sell the eight diesel submarines as part of its 2001 arms package to Taiwan, the deal may need the assistance of other countries to reach fruition. 

"As the United States no longer builds diesel submarines, we need the help of other countries," Chen said, adding that he hopes Germany can help Taiwan manufacture the submarines by providing blueprints. 

Chen said he is convinced that with the German blueprints and U.S. technical assistance, Taiwan would be able to build the vessels. "And I earnestly hope that you can convey my idea to the German parliament," Chen told Spranger. "We expect to have an opportunity to cooperate with your country in this regard." 

Chen recalled that current German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder publicly called for German submarine sales to Taiwan eight years ago. "We are hopeful that Germany can help us realize our goal of manufacturing diesel submarines on our own," he said. 

Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands all are capable of building the submarines but they have already refused to provide assistance for fear of offending Beijing, according to foreign wire service reports. 

Chen went on to stress that Taiwan's arms procurements are not aimed at provoking war but at preventing any military confrontation and maintaining peace, stability and security in the Taiwan Strait and the entire Asia-Pacific region. 

Noting that mainland China's continued military expansion and missile deployment along its southeastern coast opposite Taiwan have posed an enormous threat--not only to Taiwan but also to the United States and Japan--Chen said the United States sells arms to Taiwan mainly to help safeguard Taiwan's security and Asia-Pacific regional peace as well as maintain the balance of military power across the Taiwan Strait. 

Chen further said that the ROC fully understands that arms purchases are not the only way to protect regional peace and security. "We believe that the most effective safety valve lies in resumption of constructive cross-strait dialogue to pave the way for normalization of bilateral relations and ensure permanent cross-strait peace," he said. 

Stressing that Taiwan's security is pivotal to Asia-Pacific regional peace and stability, Chen said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan are not fueling a cross-strait arms race, but are helping defend Taiwan's democratic way of life. 

"And with stronger defense capabilities, Taiwan will have greater confidence in opening talks with mainland China," Chen said, adding that he believes such a development would also be in Germany's interest. 

Chen continued that Germany is Taiwan's largest trading partner in Europe, with annual trade reaching US$10.4 billion in 2000. Against this background, he went on, the two countries should sign an agreement to avoid double taxation on investors from either side and facilitate a crackdown on tax evasion, as well as to further boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation. 


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