The government yesterday denied claims by a military analyst that it had blown its chance to see Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) attend an annual conference on US-Taiwan defense and military cooperation in the US next week.
In separate statements, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to an op-ed article by Fu Mei (梅復興), director of the US-based Taiwan Security Analyst Center, published yesterday in the Chinese-language Apple Daily.
In his opinion piece, Mei said the government should adjust the attitudes prevailing at the Taipei Economic and Culture Representative Office (TECRO) in the US if President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) were determined to purchase F-16C/D fighter aircraft from the US and bolster US-Taiwan military cooperation.
Mei said matters, such as US-Taiwan military cooperation and US arms sale to Taiwan, had been low on TECRO’s agenda in the past two years, with the office displaying little ambition to make progress on issues that could affect US-China relations.
The US had planned to invite Kao to attend this year’s US--Taiwan Defense Industry Conference and to arrange meetings between him and senior US officials, Mei wrote, but the MND gave up on the idea after TECRO opposed Kao’s presence.
This year’s conference — in its ninth year — is organized by the US-Taiwan Business Council and will be held in Cambridge, Maryland, from Sunday to Tuesday. It will bring together senior officials and academics in defense circles from the two countries to discuss security issues of mutual concern.
Starting with the first conference in 2002, Taiwan’s delegation has been led by the deputy minister for armaments. Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) will be leading this year’s delegation.
The MND said Mei’s allegations were false, adding that it and TECRO were making concerted efforts to enhance the nation’s relations with the US and requesting the US to sell Taiwan major weapons systems.
Chao was assigned to attend the conference on behalf of the ministry because the military was tied up with disaster relief and reconstruction following Typhoon Fanapi, which caused serious flooding in southern Taiwan earlier this month, and with preparations for future typhoons in the fall, the MND said.
In a short statement late last night, the foreign affairs ministry said it had been active in working with the MND to push for military cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and the US and would continue to do so.