Sat, Jul 30, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Military attache starts work at AIT next month

AP , TAIPEI

Serving US military officers will next month staff the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) for the first time since the US switched its diplomatic recognition to rival China 26 years ago, an AIT official said yesterday.

AIT spokeswoman Nadine Saik confirmed that at least one officer -- a US army colonel -- will arrive next month to take up the post of liaison affairs officer.

The liaison affairs officer is the equivalent of the military attache in a conventional US embassy.

Saik said the officer will take over from retired US military personnel who had been acting on a contractual basis.

The decision to send active-duty military personnel to AIT was first reported in the London-based military journal Jane's Defence Weekly several months ago.

The officer's arrival coincides with a period of rising tension between the US and China.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a report saying China was building up its military with the long-term goal of expanding its regional power well beyond Taiwan.

The report elicited an angry response from Beijing, which said it posed no threat to its neighbors.

Under the terms of the US Taiwan Relations Act, which was adopted in 1979 when Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing, the US reserves the right to continue supplying Taiwan with defensive-weapons systems.

In recent years, US military officers have helped Taiwan conduct computer-simulated military exercises targeted against China.

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