Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry denies pushing port calls with the US

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday tried to downplay local media reports that it would propose ports of call between the Taiwanese and US navies in the near future.

In a front page story yesterday, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) cited a high-ranking military official as saying that the government has changed its attitude from “optimistically expectant of” to “actively seeking” ports of call exchanges with the US Navy.

Such port calls, which have not taken place since Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 1979, emerged as a possibility after US President Donald Trump in December last year signed the National Defense Authorization Act.

The act contains clauses that would allow the US to look into re-establishing “regular ports of call by the US Navy at Kaohsiung or any other suitable ports in Taiwan” and would permit the US Pacific Command to receive port visits by Taiwanese vessels.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry said it has not broached the subject with the US, but added that when the time is right, it would discuss any and all collaborative military measures with the US that would benefit Taiwan’s security.

Soon after Trump signed the act, then-minister of foreign affairs David Lee (李大維) said that Taiwan would respect the US government’s decision on whether to put the act’s provisions on port calls into practice.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement in December last year criticized the act’s Taiwan-related clause.

Since then, China has repeatedly spoken out against any military relationship between the US and Taiwan, saying that it would damage bilateral and military ties between the US and China.

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