US not fazed by missile incident: State Department

ACCIDENT::Washington expressed regret over the incident, but said it would not affect relations with Taiwan, including defense cooperation and arms sales

Staff writer, with CNA

Thu, Jul 07, 2016 - Page 3

The US is unfazed by the accidental firing of a missile from a Republic of China Navy into the Taiwan Strait last week and has reassured the government of its continuing cooperation.

“We are aware of reports about the accidental firing of a missile from a Taiwan navy vessel. We are in contact with Taiwan authorities. We regret the reported loss of life associated with this incident,” US Department of State East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau spokesperson Grace Choi said in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Choi did not see the incident as affecting future US arms sales.

“Our policy on US-Taiwan defense cooperation is unchanged and continues to be based on the three joint US-China communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” she said. “The US government remains firmly committed to supporting Taiwan’s ability to defend itself, consistent with the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

When asked how the US viewed Taiwan-China interactions in the wake of the incident, Choi said she hoped it would not have much of an impact cross-strait relations.

“The United States has an enduring interest in the maintenance of peaceful and stable cross-strait ties. We urge both sides to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect,” she wrote.

A missile accidentally launched from a corvette docked at Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung during a drill hit a Taiwanese fishing boat, killing the boat’s captain and injuring three others.

Defense authorities have said the firing was an accident caused by a series of missteps by naval officers and sailors aboard the ship.

However, China has demanded that Taiwan give a reasonable explanation of the incident, saying it would have very serious consequences.