Jane Rickards, formerly of the pro-KMT China post and currently of the American Chamber of Commerce here in Taiwan, has an article in the Washington Post today on the legislature’s passage of a tiny portion of the contentious arms purchase:

The negotiated decision, which passed on a vote of 176 to 20, called for Taiwan to spend $300 million on military purchases from the United States. Legislators approved the purchase of P-3 Orion anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft but declined to equip the island with the advanced PAC-3 antimissile systems encouraged by the Bush administration, opting instead to update existing Patriot missile batteries.

Legislators also declined to purchase diesel-electric submarines as suggested by Washington but promised to study the issue further.

The approved purchases fall far short of the arms package proposed by the Bush administration in 2001 as the best way to meet the challenge of China’s military buildup. The legislature’s decision seemed likely to intensify complaints in Washington that Taiwan is unwilling to shoulder the expenses necessary to maintain a level of military preparedness.

Rickards quotes Philip Yang, who shows up in many of these articles, suggesting that this little bone is the result of Ma Ying-jeou’s eagerness to get in good with Washington:

Philip Yang, a political science professor at National Taiwan University, said the Nationalists decided to endorse at least the Orion aircraft purchase under the influence of Ma Yingjeou, the Nationalist candidate in the 2008 presidential election, who is eager to show he can deliver better relations with the United States than the often-contentious Chen.

Hopefully Washington will reconsider its short-sighted failure to sell Taiwan F-16s.