Taiwan Appeals for US Fighter Jets བོད་སྐད།

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou is urging the United States to sell fighter jets to the island to help bolster its defense capability.

Mr. Ma requested advanced F-15 fighter jets Tuesday during a meeting with the senior U.S. envoy to Taipei, Raymond Burghardt.

Burghardt said a sale could not be ruled out during the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. He did not offer specifics, but did express concern about the increasing number of missiles China is acquiring across the Taiwan Strait.

He called the missiles a "form of threat" and said Beijing should remove them.

Last month, Taiwan's Defense Ministry issued a report saying China is aiming up to 1,500 missiles at Taiwan. The report said the military build-up is standing in the way of better relations between Beijing and Taipei.

Military experts say the missiles could be used to cripple Taiwan's defense ability or prevent outside forces from helping the island fend off an attack.

Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the self-ruled island a part of its territory. It has threatened to use military force if Taipei moves toward formal independence.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979. The American Institute in Taiwan, which Burghardt chairs, has handled Washington's unofficial ties with Taipei since then.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.