The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday criticized Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) for saying on Monday that 40,000 rounds of ammunition would be shipped for 40mm guns on Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), questioning whether it signaled the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration’s relaunching of “scorched earth” diplomacy.
Feng spoke about South China Sea issues at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, saying that the ammunition would be delivered within one month’s time to the nation’s southern maritime outposts of Taiping Island and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島).
Feng said the nation’s remote island outposts in the South China Sea would be supplied with munitions to help bolster defense and construction of facilities.
KMT Legislator Lee Yan-hsiu (李彥秀) yesterday called Feng’s remarks about the ammunition “a leaking of state secrets” and questioned whether it meant that former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “viable diplomacy” has given way to “scorched earth” diplomacy with the tensions strained in the South China Sea.
“Does President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) want to be another ‘troublemaker?’” Lee asked.
KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said the quality of Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) Cabinet members is inferior to that of the Ma administration, adding that Lin often contradicts himself.
“Feng has no idea what Taiping Island is like, as he has never been there. Experts have said that he is unprofessional and ignorant for saying what he said,” Wang said.
She called on the Lin to replace Feng as soon as possible, as the latter is “apparently not fit for the job.”
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Colonel Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) yesterday said that the ammunition is for “assorted [weapons] rather than for a single kind,” adding that the weapons are light weapons.
Chen said that the shipping of the ammunition is part of the military’s regular, planned supply run and was requested by the Coast Guard Administration (COA) for training and for maintaining regional peace.
The colonel said the ministry “needs to keep the time and place of such shipping to itself,” but as the COA did not classify the documents when it filed its requests, “it does not constitute leaking state secrets.”
Feng said he “could have kept quiet about the issue, but divulged information due to his lack of experience [of being questioned] at the Legislative Yuan.”
Additional Reporting by Jason Pan
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