The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said it has no comment on suggestions by US politicians that the US Navy should consider shifting port calls of its aircraft carriers to US allies and partners, including Taiwan.
The Pentagon late last month said that Beijing refused to allow a US carrier strike group, including the USS John C. Stennis, to make a port visit in Hong Kong amid strained relations over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
US Senator Ted Cruz said on Twitter after the Pentagon’s announcement that the strike group should reroute to Taiwan.
US Representative Randy Forbes, chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, said the “time has come to consider these alternate locations.”
Deputy Minister of National Defense Cheng De-mei (鄭德美) said at a legislative hearing that he had no comment on the issue.
“There is no information on this at this time. We have only read the news reports,” Cheng said.
Navy Chief of Staff Liu Chih-pin (劉志斌) said at the hearing that Taiwan has no naval ports that could accommodate a carrier strike group, but that vessels could anchor off the coast.
Asked if non-military ports could be used to handle an aircraft carrier, Liu said the military would have to assess the situation.
When asked whether the military has assessed a potential request by an aircraft carrier to dock in Taiwan, Liu said all countries have an obligation to lend support in emergency scenarios.
Liu said the government would have to make an overall assessment on the grounds of humanitarian assistance if the US Navy was to ask to make a port call.
“The possibility exists. Some vessels might not be able to enter ports, but they could anchor off the coast,” Liu said.
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