A new shoulder patch seen during a two-day series of military exercises last week has caused a minor sensation in defense circles, as Taiwan and Japan continue to spar over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
During the Combat Readiness Tri-Service Exercises in Greater Kaohsiung and Hualien, members of the Taiwan Military Journalists Association were seen wearing a patch depicting a Taiwanese soldier planting a Republic of China (ROC) flag on a rock, with the inscription 釣魚台是我們的, or “the Diaoyutais belong to us.”
Although not officially sanctioned by the Ministry of National Defense, the patch was a “show of support for Taiwan’s territorial claims,” one of the journalists told reporters present at the exercises, which did not include scenarios involving the disputed islets, but instead simulated a submarine incursion and defensive measures to counter an assault on an airport.
Photo: J. Michael Cole, Taipei Times
A similar inscription was seen one week after Japan announced the purchase of three of the islets comprising the Diaoyutais in September last year, this time on a Mk82 “Snake Eye” 500lb bomb carried by a F-16 taking off at Hualien Air Force Base as it headed for a bombing exercise.
The ministry said at the time that while there were “more appropriate” ways to express patriotism, none of the pilots would be reprimanded, as it was understandable that some would want to show their devotion to the nation they are charged with defending.
Meanwhile, Japanese media reported at the weekend that a Coast Guard Administration vessel was seen operating in waters near the Diaoyutais, coming within 39km off Uotsuri Island, the largest islet in the chain, known as the Senkakus by the Japanese.
The 11th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, said the Taiwanese vessel entered the area at 7:10am. The Hualien 119, a 500-tonne medium coastal patrol ship, left the contiguous area at 8:25am. Around the same time, Chinese patrol vessels were observed sailing in the contiguous zone outside Japanese waters for the third day in a row.
The Coast Guard Administration said the Hualien was on a routine maritime patrol mission.
On Thursday, Coast Guard Administration vessels engaged in a water cannon battle — the second in recent months — after Japanese coast guard ships attempted to intercept a Taiwanese fishing boat heading for the Diaoyutais.
Activists on board, members of the Taipei-based Chinese Association for Protecting the Diaoyutais, were hoping to enshrine a statue of Matsu on one of the islets.
In a twist to the story, the president of the board of the Greater Taichung-based Matsu temple from which the statue originated is former Non-Partisan Solidarity Union legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標), who was sentenced to three-and-a-half-years in jail in November last year on corruption charges.
Yen was forced to step down as legislator in Taichung’s second electoral district, prompting a by-election on Saturday in which his son, Yen Kuang-hen (顏寬恆), defeated Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shih-kai (陳世凱).
Officials in Taipei and Tokyo maintain that the incident will not undermine efforts to resume bilateral talks on fisheries, which are expected to begin soon.
During an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the idea, proposed recently by a senior Chinese Communist Party official, of “shelving” the territorial dispute was “not applicable, as the Senkakus have long been part of Japan.”
“There is no room for diplomatic discussion,” he said.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no