The US should invite Taiwan to participate at multinational military exercises in the Pacific, Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), convener of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said in Washington on Saturday, citing US law.
Wang told reporters that under US law, visits to the US by senior Taiwanese officials should also increase.
Wang met with members of the US Congress who sit on armed forces, foreign affairs and intelligence committees in the House and the Senate.
During those meetings, he conveyed Taiwan’s hope to participate in the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, which are scheduled for next summer, said Wang, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member.
US lawmakers and aides said that such an invitation was possible and would help to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge of defense-related exchanges, Wang said.
Pro-Taiwan laws promulgated in the US over the past two years are the basis for such exchanges and for enhanced bilateral relations, he said.
The US’ Taiwan Travel Act was signed into law by US President Donald Trump in March last year, allowing high-level US officials to visit Taiwan and vice versa, while the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 — which calls for US assistance to boost Taiwan’s military and includes a section on inviting the nation to join US-led military exercises — was signed by Trump in August last year.
“It would be unfair not to invite Taiwan to participate at RIMPAC,” Wang said.
Dubbed the world’s largest international maritime exercises, RIMPAC began in 1971 and was held annually until 1974, when it became a two-yearly event. The founding nations are the US, Australia and Canada.
DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) last year said that the US has wanted to invite Taiwan to participate in RIMPAC, but was unable to do so because of China’s objections and threats to pull out of the exercises.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army participated in RIMPAC in 2014 and 2016, but was not invited last year in light of Beijing’s rapid military buildup on islands also claimed by Taiwan, among others, in the South China Sea, the US military has said.
Last year, 25 nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines, 17 land-based forces, and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in the month-long RIMPAC on and around the Hawaiian Islands and in southern California, the RIMPAC Web site showed.
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