AWACS AIRCRAFT ORDERED BY TAIWAN TO BE DELIVERED FROM 2003
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AWACS AIRCRAFT ORDERED BY TAIWAN TO BE DELIVERED FROM 2003

Washington, Sept. 13 (CNA) Two Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft ordered by the Republic of China will be delivered by the US manufacturer in 2003 and 2005, respectively, a group of ROC lawmakers visiting Washington said on Monday.

Trong Chai, a legislator of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), told CNA after a meeting with executives of the Northrop Grumman Corp. which was contracted to build the aircraft, that the two planes will bring to six the ROC fleet of AWACS aircraft.

Chai said he and his five fellow lawmakers -- Tsai Ming-hsien, Lee Ying-yuan, Chang Hsiu-chen, Chung Chin-chiang and Yu Chen-tao -- learned a great deal during a briefing given by the Northrop Grumman executives.

Washington announced the sale to Taiwan of the two aircraft, with a combined price tag of US$400 million, in July.

The ROC lawmakers also met with some 50 US scholars and politicians at the Washington-based think-tank the Atlantic Council of the United States, with whom they exchanged views on Taiwan's security.

Chai said he told the US scholars that Taiwan's security lies in more than just military strength.

He advocated the disposal of the "outdated" idea of "one China" saying the idea considers Taiwan a province of China and therefore provides Beijing with an excuse to bully the island.

Instead, Chai said, Taiwan should be regarded on parity with mainland China.

He said he also touted his idea of a "plebiscite" on Taiwan's future, claiming that a plebiscite outcome favoring Taiwan independence would preempt US pressure on Taiwan to give up its claims for statehood.

The lawmaker said none of the participants at the meeting took issue with ROC President Lee Teng-hui's claim that Taipei-Beijing ties should be regarded from a state-to-state basis.

The six lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington for Taipei on Wednesday. (By Jay Chen & Maubo Chang)