21pc reduction is not enough for opposition party Taiwan's cabinet yesterday approved a reduced budget for the controversial purchase of US arms, just two days after the mainland passed the Anti-Secession Law. 'As our national security has come under greater threat, it is now the time to seriously consider [the island's defensive capabilities],' cabinet spokesman Cho Jung-tai said after the Executive Yuan approved the NT$480 billion ($121 billion) arms deal. The package, to buy six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile systems, six conventional submarines and a fleet of submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft from the United States, is 21 per cent less than the original NT$610.8 billion price tag proposed last year by the government. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's administration wanted the legislature to approve the arms budget last year amid pressure from the US, but the opposition's claim that Taiwan was being charged three times the market price for the arms delayed approval and forced the island's Defence Ministry to lower the budget. Officials have claimed the revisions have been made possible mainly by the depreciation of the US dollar. Beijing's enactment of the Anti-Secession Law has apparently helped the government justify the arms deal. Mr Chen has highlighted the need for Taiwan to buy the weapons quickly, saying the mainland was aiming more than 700 missiles at Taiwan, with the number increasing by 120 a year. Mr Cho said the government would explain to the public and the legislature the importance of the arms deal for the island's defence. However, legislator Lin Yu-fang, of the opposition People First Party, said the revised budget was still too large. 'The amount is still unacceptable because it is still higher than the market price,' he said. The United States remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan, despite having switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979. Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, the US is obliged to provide arms 'of a defensive nature' to the island.