Taiwan News: Tsai Affirms Defense Responsibilities, Foreign Minister Urges US Support

Taiwan News: Tsai Affirms Defense Responsibilities, Foreign Minister Urges US Support
Photo Credit: AP / TPG

What you need to know

Your daily bulletin of Taiwan news, courtesy of ICRT.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday that ensuring strong national defense is the government's responsibility.

Tsai said the government will do everything in its power to defend Taiwan and ensure Taiwan has strong national defense and self-defense capabilities.

A China Times report published yesterday stated the military's newly revised national defense plan indicates that in the event of conflict with China, the United States will not send troops to Taiwan.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) did not deny this report.

Instead, the Times said Taiwan will ask the U.S. to provide intelligence so it has a better grasp of the movements of enemy forces.

Commenting on the report, Tsai said enhancing Taiwan's national defense and self-defense capabilities "is our responsibility," adding that maintaining regional peace and stability also falls under the government’s purview.

U.S. officials have previously urged Taiwan to raise the proportion of its budget devoted to defense spending, which stood at 2 percent of GDP or $10.5 billion as of the 2018 defense budget.

Tsai said her administration will do its utmost to defend Taiwan and effectively deter Chinese military ambitions.

However, Tsai said it is too early to say what countermeasures relevant government agencies will take in the event of a hypothetical enemy action.

The MND said the main focus of Taiwan's military plan is to deter China from making an attack.

----

Taiwan’s foreign minister told CNN Monday that Taiwan needs U.S. military support to defend itself.

Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said the island needs the United States' continuous support in the face of China's growing military threat or it will be vulnerable to being taken over by force by Beijing.

He said that stronger security ties between the two countries would form a barrier for the Chinese to think about future military scenarios against Taiwan.

Wu said Taiwan is pleased with the development of U.S.-Taiwan ties under President Donald Trump, despite concerns the U.S. president may think of the island as a bargaining chip with China.

As for Beijing's own recent policies of using military drills, including a live-fire exercise that ran from Wednesday last week to Monday, or directing heavy war equipment to come close to Taiwan's territory, as has been the case with the China's air force circling the island periodically since the start of the year, the minister said these measures are counterproductive to China's claim that it aims to win over the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese.

----

RTX2XKAF
Photo Credit: Reuters / TPG
Then US President Barack Obama attends a military full honor review farewell ceremony given in his honor, accompanied by then Vice President Joe Biden, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford (L) and Defense Secretary Ash Carter (R) at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Washington, Jan. 4, 2017.

A former U.S. Secretary of Defense is currently visiting Taiwan to speak at a security forum.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said Ash Carter will also meet with local officials to exchange views on Taiwan-U.S. relations and regional security issues.

He arrived yesterday and will speak at the Ketagalan Forum: 2018 Asia Pacific Security Dialogue today before leaving Taiwan later this evening.

The Dialogue brings together scholars and experts from home and abroad to discuss the latest regional developments including the Korean Peninsula, the Indo-Pacific Strategic environment and how it can integrate with Taiwan's southbound policy, and China's sharp power and its challenges to the democratic world.

Carter served as U.S. defense chief from 2015 to 2017 under President Barack Obama, and it was during his tenure that the Obama administration approved a US$1.83-billion arms sale package to Taiwan.

MoFA welcomed the visit of Carter, saying that it shows strong U.S. support for Taiwan and close bilateral relations.

----

President Tsai said Monday that no transit destinations through the U.S. are being ruled out.

Tsai was speaking in reaction to a media report suggesting the United States government is likely to take Washington and New York off the table as possible transit stops when she travels to Paraguay next month.

Tsai has been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony of Paraguayan President-elect Mario Abdo Benitez on Aug. 15.

Speaking about the anonymous source in a Hong Kong newspaper story, she said, "the report is so highly speculative that it is not very accurate."

The president added that she has not made any request of the United States government to stop in Washington, explaining that convenience and safety are the primary considerations in arranging the trip to South America.

MoFa will publicize details of the trip as soon as the preparations are completed.

----

Palau’s ambassador to Taiwan is calling for strategies to counter China's global influence.

Dilmei Louisa Olkeriil said large democratic countries around the world should adopt strategies to counter China's bullying, particularly of small developing countries like Palau.

Olkeriil is speaking up as Palau Pacific Airways decided to suspend operations to its only destinations, ending service to Hong Kong and to Macau through the island of Bali due to a drop in Chinese visitors.

The fall in tourists was the result of Beijing's ban on group tours to Palau imposed in November last year because of the Pacific-island nation's diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Olkeriil said not only have Taiwan hospitals saved the lives of thousands of Palauan people, but also her country and its people are a democratic nation that supports Taiwan and similar countries.

----

The government is trying to persuade owners of old trucks to purchase new, cleaner vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said it will subsidize interest on loans and provide credit guarantees to help people buy new vehicles that meet the latest emission standards.

In recent weeks, many truck drivers have protested the government's plan to phase out old diesel-fueled trucks by instituting tougher emission standards, arguing that it will drive them out of business and make it hard to earn a living.

The EPA said under the new incentive program, the administration will provide guarantees for 70-90 percent of the loans for new truck purchases and subsidize 1 percentage point of the interest rate on the loans.

The administration said the financial support package is expected to help phase out some 73,000 old diesel trucks from public roads.

----

An international festival will be making Taiwan it's base for its annual event.

Tainan City said it has been handed the mantle of hosting the 21st Band Festival of the Asian and Pacific Band Directors' Association in 2020.

The 20th Band Festival was held in July this year in Hamamatsu, Japan, with nearly 80 ensembles from 14 Asian and Pacific countries participating.

Tainan's Cultural Affairs Bureau received the symbolic flag as the next host at the closing ceremony of that event in Japan.

Based on initial estimates, there will be 130 ensembles and more than 10,000 people participating in the 2020 even in Taiwan's southern city.

Read Next: Taiwan's Electricity Shortage and the 'Demand Response' Solution

This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: David Green


Tags: