The current military situation across the Taiwan Strait could take a turn for the worse if not handled cautiously, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday, adding that the nation’s armed forces are always prepared and constantly sharpen their abilities.
At a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip William Tseng (曾銘宗) voiced concerns over the delay of several arms sales, which might affect the combat capabilities of the armed forces.
Chiu said that concern “is what the enemy hopes for,” as it allows them to make a move before Taiwan is prepared, but the armed forces “would not be sitting around waiting,” and would continue to train with existing weapons.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The armed forces are always preparing for war and continuing to improve, Chiu said, adding that they could readily switch from a peacetime footing to a wartime one when the situation demands.
Chiu said that his ministry had agreed to raise the monthly salary for mandatory conscripts from NT$6,510 to NT$15,000 “if everyone thinks it’s acceptable.”
The military initially hoped the monthly salary could be increased to NT$25,000 based on the minimum wage, which is to be raised to NT$26,400 per month and NT$176 per hour next year, Chinese-language Credere Media reported on Wednesday last week, but the Executive Yuan had proposed raising a conscript’s monthly salary to NT$15,000 based on the minimum cost of living, which varied from NT$14,000 to NT$19,000 in different cities and counties.
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) on Thursday last week said that raising conscripts’ monthly salary to NT$15,000 was acceptable.
Separately yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee, Tseng asked about the impact on Taiwan of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) being granted a third term at the head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Politburo Standing Committee.
National Security Bureau (NSB) Deputy Director-General Chen Chin-kuang (陳進廣) said that at the CCP’s 20th National Congress on Saturday the party included a clause in its constitution saying that it is “adamantly against Taiwan’s independence.”
Chen said that the newly appointed vice chairman and several members of the Central Military Commission have served in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command or the Vietnam War.
When China’s economic growth begins to slow and its grip on society encounters challenges, the CCP might take action to shift the public’s attention from domestic affairs to foreign affairs, he said.
Asked by Tseng whether the NSB thought a war would break out in the Taiwan Strait within three years, Chen said: “Taiwan has to be prepared for every possible situation.”
When pressed for a response on the possibility of war within a year, Chen said: “We will not rule out the possibility” that Beijing, in a bid to divert some of its internal pressure, could use coercion as an approach, forcing Taiwan to reach a peace deal on the premise of unification.
Additional reporting by Aaron Tu
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of