Taiwan's president says opposition to new arms spending puts security at risk Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian told a 4,500-strong rally celebrating the island's Double Tenth National Day yesterday that the island needs to beef up its defences to deter growing military threats from the mainland. Mr Chen also vowed to pursue reforms and stamp out corruption in a bid to regain public support after a spate of scandals that have hurt his government's image. In Mr Chen's National Day speech, he accused the opposition parties of jeopardising the island's security by repeatedly shooting down the NT$380 billion ($88.85 billion) special budget to buy sophisticated US arms including eight conventional submarines and 12 P3C Orion submarine-hunting aircraft. Despite strong protests from the mainland, Washington approved the massive package in 2001. It also includes six batteries of Patriot III anti-missile systems, but they have been listed in the normal budget proposed by the Defence Ministry to try to win support from the opposition. Mr Chen warned that the continued opposition boycott - 31 times as of late last week - would only put Taiwan at risk. 'China's suppression of Taiwan in the international community and its deployment of missiles to imperil Taiwan's national security constitute not only threats to a democratic and free Taiwan, but also challenges to the global community of democracies,' he said. 'We cannot expect to rely on others for Taiwan's own defence.' He was referring to a warning from the United States that if Taiwan had no desire to beef up its defences in the face of the mainland's deployment of up to 730 missiles aimed at the island, there was no reason for Taipei to expect the US to send troops to help the island in the event of a cross-strait war. Mr Chen also reissued a call for reconciliation between the government and the opposition for the sake of the Taiwanese people's general well-being. 'I am convinced that a Taiwan in unity will engender boundless progress in our democratic society,' he said. On cross-strait relations, the island's leader reaffirmed its desire for 'goodwill reconciliation, active co-operation, and permanent peace' with the mainland. He also called for peaceful dialogue with Beijing. To boost public confidence in the government and improve the sagging image of his administration after a series of corruption scandals allegedly involving government officials, Mr Chen vowed to push through six reform programmes, including revamps of the constitution and the media, and increased efforts to reclaim assets inappropriately seized by the KMT. He also vowed not to spare any government officials, regardless of their rank, found to have been involved in corrupt practices. The pan-blue camp said Mr Chen's vows were nothing but 'political slogans' unlikely to resonate with the public. 'It seems after five years, the Chen government is only able to govern the nation by empty slogans,' said People First Party legislative caucus head Daniel Hwang Yi-chiao.