Wed, Oct 03, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Firm that handles military craft may have China link

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Solidarity Union legislators Huang Wen-ling, right, and Lin Shih-chia, second right, listen as Ministry of National Defense Armaments Bureau official Hsiao Tien-liu addresses a press conference in Taipei yesterday concerning AirAsia Co’s involvement in maintaining military aircraft.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

A firm in which Chinese capital is invested is in charge of conducting maintenance work on Taiwanese military aircraft, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmakers said yesterday, warning that as a result, sensitive national defense information could be obtained by Beijing.

The AirAsia group won maintenance bids worth NT$230 million (US$7.85 million) for the air force’s fleet of B-1900 and FK-50 aircraft as well as the army’s CH47, OH-58 and TH67 helicopters last year, TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) told a press conference.

Hong Kong-based Yangtse Development Co, owned by arms broker Yang Dong (楊棟), has purchased 2.5 million shares in Taiwan-listed Chuan Ting Co, which in turn invested in Taiwan Aerospace Corp (TAC), TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said, adding that TAC controls 82 percent of the shares of AirAsia.

“Chuan Ting therefore owns 25 percent of the shares in AirAsia,” TSU Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) said.

Yangtse could possibly able to take control of AirAsia via a series of reinvestments, Hsu said, adding that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) should revoke the company’s bidding rights and the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) Investment Commission should launch an investigation into the matter.

Information related to crucial technology and maintenance manuals for fighter jets could be leaked to the Chinese and that is why the US has been reluctant to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan, Hsu said.

Hsiao Tien-liu (蕭天流), an official at the MND’s Armaments Bureau, said maintenance of core elements related to navigation, fire-control radars and electronic warfare was maintained exclusively by the military.

There has been no evidence that proves AirAsia had a military background or made investments with a military purpose, Hsiao said, adding that the company would be barred from bidding according to the Government Procurement Act (政府採購法) if wrongful motivation is confirmed.

Investment Commission Executive Director Chang Ming-ping (張銘彬) said the commission would launch an investigation within one month and submit its complete reports to the legislature.

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