South Korea has confirmed that a 40-year-old military officer exchange program with the Republic of China (ROC) would end soon because it will launch a similar program with China, a Taiwanese government official said yesterday.
“We are in the middle of negotiating with the Ministry of National Defense of South Korea before this plan is finalized [later] this month,” the official told the Taipei Times.
Taiwan was able to authenticate the information, first disclosed by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun on April 21, after the Taipei Mission in Korea talked to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Although the Korean Mission in Taipei declined to confirm the report when approached for comment, the Korea JoongAng Daily, an English-language publication under the JoongAng Ilbo, reported yesterday in Seoul that the South Korean government had decided to end the personnel exchange program with Taiwan.
The Korea JoongAng Daily said a South Korean military official told the JoongAng Ilbo that military authorities in Seoul and Beijing had agreed to start an exchange program for major-level officers to study at their respective army, navy or air force academies for one year.
The official was quoted as saying that the agreement with China came after South Korea promised to stop its program with Taiwan.
Beijing had strongly insisted that Seoul stop the exchange program with Taiwan, the reports said.
South Korean Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin and his Chinese counterpart, General Liang Guanglie (梁光烈), will confirm the exchange program in Beijing at the end of this month, as well as the establishment of a military hotline, along with other measures to strengthen military cooperation between the two countries, the newspapers said.
One ROC officer is currently studying in South Korea, while two South Korean officers are in Taiwan, a diplomatic source said.
Sha Tsan-son (沙春生), a retired military attache who had served in Seoul, said ending the ROC-South Korea program was aimed at breaking the “brotherhood that has existed between the Republic of China military and the Gwangbokgun,” the armed forces of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (the 1919 to 1948 government-in-exile in China), since it was established in 1941.
In an interview with the Taipei Times on Tuesday, the retired officer, who took part in the exchange program in the late 1970s, lamented the changes in relations between Taipei and Seoul and those between Beijing and Seoul over the decades.
One main reason Taiwan was able to maintain the program — even after Seoul abruptly broke diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1992, in what was widely regarded in Taiwan as an insulting way — was “the profound relationship between the ROC military and the Gwangbokgun” that dated back to a time when both countries were facing hard times, said the former officer, who retired about 10 years ago.
As China’s clout grew in terms of its economic relationship with South Korea and its influence with North Korea, Taiwan had to reduce the number of officers it sent to Seoul from three when the program began in 1974 to one, said the retiree, who is now president of Taiwan Education Center in South Korea.
“I cannot remember the exact year, but at one point South Korea barred Taiwanese exchange officers from wearing their military uniforms,” he said.
What Taiwan gained from the program was not what its officers learned of military techniques, but “the strong bonds it built between the two countries,” he said.
In the early 2000s, several requests by Beijing that Seoul end the exchange program with Taipei were bluntly turned down by South Korean military leaders, who themselves had studied in Taiwan as part of the program, he said.
A paper published in October by Hwang Jaeho, a professor of international studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the exchange program had been an impediment for South Korea in achieving a strategic cooperative partnership with China, a goal his country has been pursuing since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in 2008.
‘A DISASTER’: A successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would undermine the credibility of US security guarantees and could result in a global depression, three experts wrote A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a geopolitical catastrophe for the US and its allies, one that would overshadow almost all others over the next decade, US policy experts said. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute; Gabriel Collins, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and former US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger issued the warning in an article published on Friday in Foreign Affairs. Bejing’s invasion or annexation of Taiwan “would be a disaster of utmost importance to the United States, and I am convinced that
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China