A delegation of retired military officers left for China yesterday on a week-long visit that they described as an effort to push for cross-strait military confidence-building measures, although the Ministry of National Defense was quick to distance itself from the trip and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) criticized it for “causing discord and antagonism in society.”
The group, led by pro-unification New Alliance Association chairman Hsu Li-nung (許歷農), comprises former members of the Taiwanese army, navy and air force.
Hsu said shortly before his departure that the delegation hopes that military confidence-building measures can be established between the two sides of the strait.
During the visit, the delegates will conduct dialogue with high-ranking Chinese military officials, military experts and retired military personnel, he said, adding that they would pass their opinions on to the government on their return.
The group is expected to meet with members of China’s Central Military Commission and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. They will also visit some units within the People’s Liberation Army, officials at the Taiwan Affairs Office, Beijing Aerospace Town and the Whampoa Military Academy.
The ministry said in a statement that the visit is only being made by retired military officers and only in a private capacity. The ministry added that it has never authorized any organizations or individuals to discuss issues related to military confidence-building measures with Beijing.
It warned the delegation to be careful with their words and conduct while in China.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) yesterday said “the repeated visits to China by retired generals causes discord and antagonism in society.”
“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is the commander-in-chief of our armed forces, but he vacillates on this issue,” Lin said, “The DPP demands Ma abide by his duty and responsibility, and clearly spell out his stance and tell us what action he is going to take to deal with this matter.”
Lin noted a recently released US Department of Defense report, which clearly outlined China’s military threat to Taiwan.
“How are our soldiers supposed to feel when they are hard at work defending our homeland, while at the same time they see former military officers being invited to big banquets and wined and dined by Chinese authorities?” Lin asked.