Taiwanese Defence Minister Chen Chao-min is making a last-ditch effort to persuade the US to sell a US$12 billion package of advanced weapons to the island after the deal failed to make it to Congress on Friday. Warning that the mainland's weapons have improved in recent years, Mr Chen said the US should honour its commitment by selling the long-stalled package. 'Mainland China's defence budget has seen double-digit growth for some 20 years in a row, with its annual budget exceeding US$130 billion, resulting in a big improvement in its national defence,' Mr Chen said in Florida on Monday. 'This has created strong pressure on Taiwan, making it highly necessary for Taiwan to acquire the weapons systems from the US,' he said after a speech at the annual US-Taiwan defence industry conference. Taiwan is seeking to buy seven weapons systems approved by the Bush administration in 2001, but still needs the consent of Congress. The systems' budgets, approved by Taiwan's legislature last year, include six Patriot PAC-3 batteries, a feasibility study for eight diesel submarines, submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, 30 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, 60 Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and anti-tank missiles. But in a notification to Congress of arms sales to other countries on Friday, Taiwan was not included, boosting long-running speculation Washington would freeze arms supplies for the island until the new US administration takes office. Mr Chen said not only would the failure to approve the sales affect Taiwan's defence capability, which was not in the US strategic interest in dealing with Beijing, but it would also create new problems for Taiwan as the island's legislature would have to approve the system's budgets again next year. It took the Kuomintang-dominated legislature more than three years to approve the budgets after a boycott by legislators opposed to the government of the pro-independence President Chen Shui-bian. In his speech during the Florida conference, Mr Chen expressed Taiwan's determination to defend itself. He also explained to US participants about the mainland-engagement policy adopted by the government of Ma Ying-jeou, who replaced Chen Shui-bian as president in May, saying there was still a need for Taiwan to acquire arms to defend itself. Mr Chen - the first Taiwan defence minister to visit the US since 2002, when then Admiral Tao Yao-ming attended a similar conference in Texas - is scheduled to visit US bases in California and Arizona. In Taipei, Defence Ministry spokeswoman Lisa Chi Yu-lan said the island was still cautiously optimistic about the arms package. 'It has not yet come to the last moment as the Congress has decided to extend its current session for one more week,' she said. Congress was to take a recess last Friday, but it was postponed due to deadlock over a US$700 billion bailout package for Wall Street.