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《TAIPEI TIMES》 Taiwan can exercise self-defense: Koo

Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo, center, arrives at the legislature in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo, center, arrives at the legislature in Taipei yesterday. Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times

2024/06/07 03:00

PROCEDURE: If any Chinese aircraft enters within 12 nautical miles of the nation’s territorial airspace and water, the right of self-defense would be invoked, minister said

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

The military would be ordered to exercise the right of self-defense if the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attacks Taiwan or its outlying islands, or enters without permission within 12 nautical miles (22.2km) of its territorial airspace and waters, Minister of National Defense Wellington Koo (顧立雄) told lawmakers yesterday.

Koo, who was head of the National Security Council under former president Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), gave briefings to lawmakers at the meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee for the first time after being sworn in on May 20.

He is the nation’s seventh defense minister without a military background.

During the question-and-answer session, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Huang Jen (黃仁) and Wang Hung-wei (王鴻薇) inquired about the ministry’s definitions of “first strike” and the right of defense.

Koo said that the military would be ordered to exercise the right of defense if the PLA launches a first strike against Taiwan or its outlying islands, or its facilities, aircraft and sea vessels in operation.

“The right of self-defense would also be invoked if any Chinese aircraft enters within 12 nautical miles of our territorial airspace and waters, and the military should defend and respond in proportion to the size of the attack,” Koo said.

Wang also asked how the military obtained information about China’s “Joint Sword-2024A” military exercise on May 23 and 24, and whether its assessment showed that more military exercises are expected in the second half of the year.

Koo said he cannot say how the military secured information about the exercise, but it forms assessments based on various signs.

“Our military has always been able to obtain the updated status of the PLA, but there is no telling whether they would hold another exercise. We will closely monitor the situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Koo said that the ministry has lifted travel restrictions imposed on active military personnel.

Although military personnel were not banned from traveling overseas, they were required to join group tours to ensure their safety and prevent them leaking confidential national security information.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) on Facebook wrote that such travel restrictions are meaningless as there is no mechanism to verify whether military personnel would only join group tours.

More than 180,000 military personnel in the past few decades were subject to the restriction, including doctors and nurses in military hospitals or faculty members and instructors in military academies or colleges who do not teach subjects related to national intelligence, Hung said.

Based on the revised regulations announced by the ministry on Wednesday, military personnel are allowed to travel independently as long as they provide a detailed itinerary, including flights and accommodation.

They must present documents proving that they had traveled overseas when they return, such as a photocopy of their passports with arrival and departure stamps, boarding passes or documents provided by hotels.

If military personnel join group tours, they must present travel itineraries and a copy of their travel service contract, the regulations say.

Koo also said that military personnel with intelligence clearing would be regulated based on the level of confidential information to which they have access, rather than on their rank.

The policy is to be changed after consulting with the US military system, he said.

In addition, the ministry has relaxed a policy that bans chiefs of military units and their deputies from leaving their barracks at the same time, Koo said.

“The requirement was previously set because of frequent harassment from Chinese military aircraft,” Koo said.

“However, the military has a well-established chain of command and accumulated experiences. Following detailed discussions about the issue, we have decided to return to the normal division of labor between unit chiefs and deputies so military personnel at all levels can take care of their families as well,” he said.

Food stipends for military personnel of all levels would increase, he added.

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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