Taiwan plans to purchase four warships from the United States as part of the island’s efforts to modernize its forces and offset the perceived military threat from China, local media reported Sunday.
The defence ministry briefed President Ma Ying-jeou on the proposed arms deal during a meeting last month and is prepared to set aside the budget next year, the United Daily News said, without specifying the cost.
The ministry declined to comment on the report.
If finalized, the arms deal will increase to 12 the total number of such warships owned by Taiwanese navy.
The four Perry-class frigates, separately built in the 1980s and to be retired by the US navy lately, are aimed to replace the Taiwan navy’s fleet of eight Knox-class frigates, the daily said.
Ties between Taiwan and its former rival China have improved drastically since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became president in 2008 promising to boost trade and tourism links.
Ma was elected for a second term in January.
China however still claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which has governed itself since 1949, and has vowed to get it back — by force if necessary — even though the island has ruled itself for more than 60 years.
China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons, largely from the United States.