Although Taiwan and China have both been left out of the world’s largest naval exercise hosted by the US, the reasons for their exclusion are very different, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said yesterday.
The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime military exercises under way in Hawaii are the largest since their inception in 1971, with 22 countries, from Japan to Tonga and from Russia to Chile, participating in a five-week series of drills.
Responding to media inquiries at a routine press briefing, Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Department of North American Affairs at the ministry, said the reason Taiwan was not invited to participate in the exercise seemed clear.
The US evidently did not think the time was ripe to invite Taiwan to take part in a multilateral mechanism like RIMPAC in the absence of official diplomatic relations between the two countries and was concerned about how China would react to any such invitation, Linghu said.
Nonetheless, military cooperation and strategic dialogue between Taiwan and the US have been close, he added.
Linghu said he was not in a position to comment on why China was not invited to take part in the exercise because it was a decision pertaining to US military policy.
However, the reasons the US did not invite Taiwan and China “were two different things,” he said.
Asked to comment on the view expressed by some US analysts that Taiwan should be abandoned to pursue a better US-China relationship, Linghu said that such a view in no way represented mainstream thinking on the US’ Taiwan policy.
“Various US government officials have characterized Taiwan as an economic and security ally of the US at different occasions. In addition, Taiwan is one of the countries that shares the same values as the US,” he said.
Asked about the US position on the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkaku Islands in Japanese, Linghu said the contention by the US that the dispute falls within the scope of Article 5 of the 1960 US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security did not in any way affect Taiwan’s sovereignty claims over the area.
Although Washington takes no position on which state has sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, it has held the position that the Diaoyutai Islands are under -Japanese administration control since the US handed back Okinawa to Japan in 1971.
“The Republic of China maintains that it has sovereignty, as well as administrative jurisdictional power, over the Diaoyutai Islands. We have clearly expressed our position to the US and Japan since 1971 and that position has not changed,” Linghu said.