Taiwan’s general in US for defence meeting
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s Deputy Defence Minister General Houh Shoou-yeh has left for the United States to attend a defence industry meeting, a trip likely to anger rival Beijing which has called on Washington to halt military exchanges with the island.
The defence ministry confirmed Houh’s departure over the weekend but tried to play down the significance of the meeting he will attend. “It is simply a meeting hosted by a civil organisation,” said ministry spokesman Huang Suey-sheng. Houh will deliver a keynote speech at the opening of the United States-Taiwan Defence Industry Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on Sunday, Huang said without providing details.
Taiwan’s government is to seek parliament’s approval for a controversial 18 billion US dollar special defence budget to buy six US-made Pac-3 anti-missile systems, eight conventional submarines and a fleet of submarine-hunting P-3C aircraft, over a 15-year period from 2005.
Richard Lawless, a deputy undersecretary at the US Defence Department, will also speak at the conference, according to its organisers the US-Taiwan Business Council. This is the third in a series of conferences addressing the future of US defence cooperation with Taiwan and the defence procurement process. It will provide a progress report on Taiwan’s future defence needs and review its communications and command systems, submarine and missile defence programmes, the council said.
Some critics say Taiwan cannot afford the massive arms spending while others say the new weaponry will not be delivered in time to help the island fend off any attack from China in coming years.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in July asked the United States to halt military exchanges and arms sales to Taiwan, given the “seriousness” of the cross-strait standoff. afp