The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday denied that Taiwan had been invited to participate in this year’s Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) naval exercises, hosted by the US.
The ministry’s comment came in response to a recent Chinese-language media report that the US had invited Taiwan, along with China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Ecuador, to be observers at this year’s exercise off the coast of Hawaii.
The biennial RIMPAC exercises are the largest joint maritime exercises in the world and are hosted by the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
This year’s RIMPAC runs from Thursday next week to Aug. 1.
The media report said mention of Taiwan’s participation came from a Web site that focuses on RIMPAC topics and is popular with military personnel and experts.
However, the Web site was down yesterday, so the report could not be independently verified.
Major General David Lo (羅紹和), the ministry’s spokesman, said the report was not correct and was probably the result of miscommunication.
“We have not been invited to join the RIMPAC naval exercise and we are not dispatching any units to participate this year,” Lo said.
However, the ministry welcomes such opportunities for mutual exchanges on military issues, he said.
“The defense ministry is open and receptive to participate … in the international arena. It could be a mutual exchange on military issues with allied nations, including the US and others, or taking part in think tank seminars and academic forum discussions,” he said.
China is taking part in this year’s exercise for the first time.
Xinhua news agency reported that four People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels — the missile destroyer Haikou, the missile frigate Yueyang, the supply ship Qiandaohu and the hospital ship Ark Peace set sail for Hawaii on Monday last week.
Additional reporting by staff writer