Despite repeated warnings by the Ministry of National Defense to curb their visits to China, retired senior military personnel are continuing to make such trips — and sometimes as part of a group, a top official has said.
The official, who requested anonymity, said a delegation of generals led by retired general and former director of the General Political Warfare Department Hsu Li-nung (許歷農) visited Beijing over the weekend to attend the Huangpu seminar organized by the Beijing government.
Hsu’s “Chung Shang Huangpu Cross-Strait Ties” seminar launched its first activities in Taiwan last year, with Beijing mobilizing the families or descendants of Huangpu military school graduates to come to Taiwan, the official said.
The number of retired Taiwanese military personnel who participated in last year’s event was between 40 and 50 people, enough to cause concern within the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the official said.
Prior to last year’s seminar, Hsu led a delegation of 18 retired military officers, including eight retired generals, on a visit to Beijing and held direct talks with officials from the Central Military Commission (CMC) under the title of director of the “New -Tongmenghui,” the official said.
As Hsu’s delegation received the royal treatment from the CMC last year, the possibility that his meeting over the weekend with CMC officials included an exchange of views on cross-strait matters could not be excluded, the official said.
According to other sources, another 10 retired military personnel visited Sichuan Province between May 31 and yesterday for a golf party with retired People’s Liberation Army officers, and some retired Taiwanese officers were flown directly to Beijing to attend the seminar after the golf trip.
In contrast with meetings two years ago, when the Chinese units in charge would publish press releases and pictures to promote the fact that cross-strait military exchanges were taking place, this year’s golf party and seminar was “abnormally low profile,” the official said.
Whether this is because Taiwan has entered its election season or other election-related aspects requires further observation, the official said.
Former Political Warfare Bureau deputy director and executive officer Chen Hsing-kuo (陳興國), the main coordinator for the seminar in Taiwan last year, said the seminar was held in Beijing this year because the numbers of retired officers from Taiwan participating in the event would not be as high as last year.
Chen also confirmed that some of the retired officers attending the golf party in Sichuan were directly flown to Beijing to attend the seminar, but said he could not say how many participated.
Chen also confirmed that Hsu was flown directly to Beijing from Hubei Province.
A senior manager at the Huang Fu-hsing branch of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said they had received invitations to the golf party and the seminar, but after due consideration felt that it was best not to attend.
If anyone in the Huang Fu--hsing branch attended an event in China, they would do so through the KMT and Chinese Communist Party channels, the manager said, adding they would not go as independent tourist groups.
If some of the retired officers wished to attend the golf party or any seminars, the manager said that as long as they did not say they were acting on the behalf of the Huang Fu-hsing branch, it could not interfere.