Top defense officials yesterday said they are monitoring the South China Sea situation closely, and that Taiwan’s armed forces have contingency plans in place and are capable of defending the nation’s island outposts if a conflict breaks out.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Admiral Chen Yung-kang (陳永康) downplayed the escalation of tensions and possible conflict following the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen’s passage in the South China Sea by saying these are “routine missions” by warships in the region.
Chen was asked about media reports that Washington is next to send aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on the same route during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
“The South China Sea is among the most dense and busiest shipping routes in the world. So it is not just the Americans, but many countries’ warships will transit through it when they intend to head to the Indian Ocean and other places. They may or may not declare [their route], but it is a routine situation either way,” Chen said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) asked about the military’s readiness to defend the nation’s territories in the South China Sea, in the event of a conflict.
“If that happens, our armed forces will not hide away, nor become frightened. Right now, the patrol and supply missions by our navy and air force units to the Spratly Islands [Nansha Islands, 南沙群島] are being carried out according to regular schedule,” said Lieutenant General Chou Hau-yu (周皓瑜), deputy director of operations and planning at the Office of Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Chou said routine missions to the defense posts on Taiwan’s outlying islands are continuing, and added: “Our armed forces have contingency plans to deal with different situations in the Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙] and Spratly Islands.”
Later at the meeting, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked whether the defense ministry would seek help from other countries if the US and China clash and China attacks Taiwan.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff Admiral Pu Tze-chun (蒲澤春) said that the armed forces “will staunchly defend the nation,” while the nation would also appeal to the international community.
“We will seek military assistance from other countries, but it is up to each nation to decide themselves, whether they will dispatch troops. However, we have the resolute determination to defend our nation and protect our homeland. Our armed forces will not back down, and will carry out their combat missions to the death,” Pu said.
Following Pu’s remarks, other legislators said it is most important for the nation’s citizens to defend their country, because a war is usually lost if a nation has to depend on help from other nations.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The central government is offering subsidies to hotels to house people who have been ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) yesterday elaborated on the rules for “social distancing” and said that the government is providing subsidies to encourage more hotels to become quarantine hotels. Chen on Tuesday urged the public to practice social distancing by keeping at least 1m apart outdoors and 1.5m apart indoors. If maintaining such distances is not possible due to confined or crowded spaces, then everyone should wear a mask, Chen yesterday told a daily news briefing at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei. The center also suggested that people avoid exhibitions, sports events, concerts and other social
FAMILY FEUD: Weng Jen-hsien, who was convicted of killing six people in 2016, was the second prisoner to be executed since President Tsai Ing-wen took office A death row inmate was executed on Wednesday, less than a year after he was convicted of killing six people by setting fire to his home. Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said that he signed the order and the death sentence was carried out on Wednesday afternoon in New Taipei City. The Supreme Court on July 10 last year sentenced 53-year-old Weng Jen-hsien (翁仁賢) to death after he was convicted of killing his parents, niece, nephew and nephew’s wife and his parents’ caregivers. Weng set fire to his home in Taoyuan’s Longtan District (龍潭) on Feb. 7, 2016, after a family feud
At a campground in Nantou County, a team of women are using ropes to shimmy up a towering seven-story tall Chinaberry tree, fighting their fear of heights and reconnecting with nature. Tree climbing remains somewhat niche in Taiwan, but a growing number of women are embracing the challenge thanks to the island’s first international certified female climber arborist. Sylvia Hsu (許芢涵), 26, said she was inspired to set up her own women-only tree climbing classes after seeing the popularity of similar gatherings in Europe. “A women-only camp is a more relaxed environment,” she said. “I was hooked on trees after my first climb...
STRENGTH IN UNITY: The Executive Yuan respects KMT legislators’ viewpoints, but has no comment on calls for the premier to step down, spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of treating the Legislative Yuan with disdain and demanded that he apologize or step down for saying that KMT Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) is unfit for her job. Prior to a question-and-answer session at the legislature on Tuesday, Su was asked by reporters to comment on Chen’s remark on Monday that Taiwan is not a country. “Then she is not qualified to be a lawmaker,” the premier said. Chen made the remark during a question-and-answer session with Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), when she asked him about his view