Taiwan will continue to buy arms abroad as it cannot rely on improved ties with Beijing for security, President Ma Ying-jeou has said.

“It is our necessary and unalterable policy to develop an independent defensive capability and to continue to buy from abroad defensive weapons that we cannot produce ourselves,” he said.

Taiwanese experts have estimated that the Chinese military has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island, according to Agence France Presse.

The growing number of missiles in the recent years implies that China would be using force to bring about reunification.

The US recently approved a $6.4bn arms package that includes helicopters, anti-missile defences and minesweepers for Taiwan.