The interview with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou ["Taiwan seeks more U.S. arms, despite thaw with China," news story, Feb. 18] lays bare - perhaps inadvertently - some of the inconsistencies in Mr. Ma's position.

For one, he is seeking more U.S. arms, in particular F-16s. We should wholeheartedly support that. But why did Mr. Ma vociferously oppose the same arms sales from 2000 to 2008, when his predecessor, Chen Shui-bian, was in power? That the new F-16s are still not flying in Taiwan's airspace is largely due to Mr. Ma playing politics under the previous government.

The other inconsistency is that Mr. Ma declares that Taiwan "is a sovereign state." This is indeed a fact, something the previous government,led by the Democratic Progressive Party, attempted to emphasize. However, since 2008 Mr. Ma and his Kuomintang government have directly and indirectly undermined Taiwan's sovereignty by pushing Taiwan into China's sphere of influence and by eroding Taiwan's hard-won freedom and democracy.

Mr. Ma's "sovereign state" is not Taiwan but the old "Republic of China (ROC)," brought over from China by the authoritarian Chiang Kai-shek. The "constitution" Mr. Ma refers to is the anachronistic 1947 ROC Constitution, which stipulates that his ROC still holds sovereignty over China, Tibet, Mongolia, etc. It would be desirable if Taiwan would ditch this constitution and move toward a new one based on the reality of a free and democratic Taiwan.

Gerrit van der Wees, Washington

The writer is senior policy adviser at the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.