The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that participants at the commissioning ceremony in February for the long-range early-warning radar on Leshan (樂山) in Hsinchu County were all involved in the procurement of the US radar system, and the event itself featured no classified information, so there was no threat to national security.
The ministry said the radar — the first of its kind in Asia — has a maximum range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,556km), encompassing almost the whole of the Korean Peninsula and the entire South China Sea, including territory deep inside China.
The radar officially entered service on Feb. 1, but it had already seen action when tracking a North Korean rocket launch in December last year.
The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), wrote yesterday that sources within the military had alleged that the ministry had taken the lead in weakening the military’s control of classified information and also raised eyebrows with the invitation of retired Air Force General Hsia Ying-chou (夏瀛洲) to the commissioning ceremony.
Hsia, a former director of National Defense University, allegedly told a gathering of retired military officers in China in 2011 that no distinction should be drawn between the Republic of China (ROC) Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as both are “China’s army.”
At a forum on Friday, the retired general said that Taiwan was unable to compete with China in military terms, no matter how much money the nation spends on defense.
The report said Hsia’s invitation had concerned some officers, with some also questioning whether he should continue to receive a military pension in view of his comments, which the said had dealt a great blow to morale.
The report added that the ministry had also briefed retired generals on some classified information and had even taken them into the radar base.
Ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said that in theory, only air force personnel who were involved in the system’s procurement or whose actions had been beneficial to the project should have been invited to the commissioning ceremony.
Lo also said that the military is fully conscious of its duty to protect the country and its people and has not felt any confusion on that fact, adding that military ties with the US were stable and would not be affected.
Air Force Command headquarters said the ceremony was only for the commissioning of the radar system and the awarding of medals, with a brief introduction of the radar system’s procurement history and a gathering for tea afterward.
It added that there had been no classified items or material had been mentioned or were on view during the ceremony.
The invitation of retired generals was largely symbolic and is a way of linking the past to the present, the headquarters said, adding that Taiwan-US ties would not suffer as a result of the event, it said.