Top defense officials yesterday said they are monitoring the South China Sea situation closely, and that Taiwan’s armed forces have contingency plans in place and are capable of defending the nation’s island outposts if a conflict breaks out.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Admiral Chen Yung-kang (陳永康) downplayed the escalation of tensions and possible conflict following the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen’s passage in the South China Sea by saying these are “routine missions” by warships in the region.
Chen was asked about media reports that Washington is next to send aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt on the same route during a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
“The South China Sea is among the most dense and busiest shipping routes in the world. So it is not just the Americans, but many countries’ warships will transit through it when they intend to head to the Indian Ocean and other places. They may or may not declare [their route], but it is a routine situation either way,” Chen said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) asked about the military’s readiness to defend the nation’s territories in the South China Sea, in the event of a conflict.
“If that happens, our armed forces will not hide away, nor become frightened. Right now, the patrol and supply missions by our navy and air force units to the Spratly Islands [Nansha Islands, 南沙群島] are being carried out according to regular schedule,” said Lieutenant General Chou Hau-yu (周皓瑜), deputy director of operations and planning at the Office of Deputy Chief of the General Staff.
Chou said routine missions to the defense posts on Taiwan’s outlying islands are continuing, and added: “Our armed forces have contingency plans to deal with different situations in the Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙] and Spratly Islands.”
Later at the meeting, DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) asked whether the defense ministry would seek help from other countries if the US and China clash and China attacks Taiwan.
Deputy Chief of the General Staff Admiral Pu Tze-chun (蒲澤春) said that the armed forces “will staunchly defend the nation,” while the nation would also appeal to the international community.
“We will seek military assistance from other countries, but it is up to each nation to decide themselves, whether they will dispatch troops. However, we have the resolute determination to defend our nation and protect our homeland. Our armed forces will not back down, and will carry out their combat missions to the death,” Pu said.
Following Pu’s remarks, other legislators said it is most important for the nation’s citizens to defend their country, because a war is usually lost if a nation has to depend on help from other nations.
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