A retired general’s alleged comments that the Republic of China (ROC) Armed Forces and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shared the same goal of unification have sparked concern, prompting the Presidential Office yesterday to say it would not approve of such comments if they were proven to have been said.
Former ROC Air Force general Hsia Ying-chou (夏瀛洲) reportedly lauded the close ties between Taiwan and China during a forum in the Chinese city of Xian on Wednesday.
Quoting PLA Major General Luo Yuan (羅援), the Chinese-language newspaper the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) reported that Hsia said during the forum that the ROC Armed Forces and the PLA, while having different ideas, shared the same goal: promoting unification of all “Chinese people.”
Hsia’s comments drew applause from the audience, the article quoted Luo as saying.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) yesterday said Hsia’s alleged comments still needed to be confirmed, but if he did make them, the Presidential Office would not approve, as such remarks go against national policies and would be damaging to the morale of the nation’s armed forces.
“The government’s stance on the subject is very clear. The ROC military should not be confused with the PLA and we do not allow any vagueness on our national defense efforts,” he said.
Hsia had made similar remarks last year during a visit to China, as he suggested during a gathering of retired generals from both sides of the Taiwan Strait that: “From now on, we should no longer separate the ROC Armed Forces and the PLA. We are all China’s army.”
His remarks drew criticism from politicians across party lines. Ma had also commented on the incident, urging retired generals to act and talk with extra caution during their visits to China and calling for the drafting of a “code of conduct” for retired generals.
Fan Chiang said prioritizing Taiwan’s interests and people’s rights remained the most important principles in handling cross-strait relations and that the government would not accept any comments that damaged its efforts in defending the nation’s sovereignty and dignity.
Opposition lawmakers condemned the alleged comments, saying they were “shameless” and tantamount to treason.
“Those comments from a retired general are simply unacceptable, in particular when everyone knows that China has always been the simulated enemy for our troops. This is treason,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) told a press conference.
“And this is not the first time Hsia has made inappropriate comments regarding Taiwan’s military,” he said.
If Hsia does not recognize Taiwan as his country, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said, then he should renounce his right to receive a retirement pension because his comments were unfair to the taxpayers who fund these payments.
Chen, chief secretary of the DPP legislative caucus, said her caucus would propose amending the Act of Military Service for Officers and Noncommissioned Officers of the Armed Forces (陸海空軍軍官士官服役條例) to revoke the pension of retirees who jeopardize the nation’s sovereignty and image with their comments or behavior.
There is a similar regulation in Germany, Chen said.
Chen also questioned Ma’s flip-flopping on similar cases, saying that the president, who condemned Hsia in June last year, told the retired general in September during Ma’s re-election campaign that public reaction to his comment was “unfair”.