The aim of a Taiwanese delegation attending the annual US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will be to develop self-sufficiency for the nation’s defense systems — one of five key industries of the new government’s economic plan, analysts said.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) is leading the delegation — comprised of military and government officials, as well as representatives of the nation’s defense industry — to this year’s conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, which is to begin today and run until Tuesday.
The delegation is to discuss defense strategies and experiences with its US counterparts, sources said.
Due to President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) push toward the domestic development of defense technology, which is expected to be a focal point of the meeting, the delegation includes more than 50 representatives of Taiwan’s aerospace, communications and shipbuilding industries.
The annual conference was started in 2002 by then-US president George W. Bush as a platform for the two sides to communicate on defense-related issues, and has over the past 14 years served as an official channel for the procurement of US-developed defense technology.
Taiwanese delegations in 2002 and 2008 were led by former defense ministers Yang Yao-ming (湯曜明) and Chen Chao-min (陳肇敏) respectively, while they were led in other years by deputy ministers.
The US departments of state and defense have also sent various high-ranking officials to the annual conference.
As the Legislative Yuan is to hold sessions this year during the conference, Minister of National Defense Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) is to remain in Taiwan, with Lee taking his place at the conference.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) is to represent the party at the conference, while the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is to be represented by former Control Yuan member Ger Yeong-kuang (葛永光) and former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起).
James Moriarty, who led the general affairs (political) section at the American Institute in Taiwan from 1994 to 1998, is to represent the US at the conference.
However, it is still unclear whether officials from the US departments of state and defense will attend this year, due to the US presidential elections next month.
Analysts said it is likely the US will not send high-ranking officials, but will instead send officials with decisionmaking power and those close to relevant government agencies.
They said talks might not be fruitful, as the officials are likely to leave their posts after the election, but added that the change of government would not influence what is discussed at the talks.
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said the ministry has no comment in regard to expectations for the conference, but analysts said that given the aims of the current administration toward defense autonomy, the conference will likely focus on how the nation can build its own defense technology and equipment.
They said that this year’s delegation hopes to learn by sharing experiences with US experts.
Lo said he hopes that the many industry experts attending the conference from both nations will benefit from cooperating with each other.
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