Mon, Sep 05, 2005 - Page 3 News List

KMT sends representative to San Diego conference

BY KO SHU-LING  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) will send a representative to attend a high-level conference in the US designed to boost Taiwan's military cooperation with America, the Taipei Times has learned.

Ho Szu-yin (何思因), director of the KMT's Overseas Department and vice-convener of the National Security Division of the KMT's National Policy Foundation, has been invited by the organizer -- the US-Taiwan Business Council -- to make a luncheon keynote presentation at the "US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference 2005," which is scheduled to be held in San Diego, California from Sep. 18 to Sep. 20.

This is the fourth in a series of ongoing conferences addressing the future of US defense cooperation with Taiwan, the defense procurement process and Taiwan's future defense and national security needs, according to the organizer's Web site.

Deputy Minister of National Defense Hou Shou-yeh (霍守業) will attend in the place of Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑).

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Nelson Ku (顧崇廉), a retired admiral who is a member of the legislature's National Defense Committee, criticized the KMT's participation in the meeting as its "endorsement of the arms procurement plan."

The pan-blue alliance of the KMT and PFP have been staunchly opposing the arms procurement plan, which would acquire three items from the US government.

While the KMT is still divided over the issue and has established a task force to evaluate the arms procurement plan, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) of the KMT has called on opposition lawmakers to push the stymied bill through to the National Defense Committee for further review during the upcoming legislative session.

Newly-elected KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, has said that he finds the expensive plan unacceptable and laid down three basic principles for the party to abide by.

Ho, who is currently out of the country, was not available for comment about his upcoming trip. KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), who also serves as the deputy executive director of the KMT's Central Policy Committee, confirmed to the Taipei Times that Ho will represent the party at the meeting.

Ting also proposed that the government earmark a bigger budget for the military's Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology to improve and mass produce domestically developed military weaponry instead of spending large amounts of money buying expensive arms from other countries.

Fu Mei (梅復興), director and editor-in-chief of the Taiwan Defense Review, disagreed.

"Taiwan's military modernization needs greater emphasis on participation in US weapon systems programs, international joint development ventures and cooperative or license production, rather than launching a completely domestic effort," he told the Taipei Times.

In addition, the armed service branches and the Ministry of National Defense need to expand their portfolio of interest into areas and disciplines not traditionally under military jurisdiction, such as space affairs and critical infrastructure protection, he said.

Mei has been invited by the organizer to speak on "Taiwan military modernization and the rapidly changing strategic environment."

Mei said that he is not sure whether the conference in San Diego would have a direct effect on the arms budget review process, because this will depend on the attitude of the PFP in the coming weeks and on the political dynamics within the pan-blue coalition.

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