Taiwan, US hold 1st defense forum amid regional tensions

12-May-2018 Intellasia | AFP | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The first Taiwan-US Defense Business Forum was held in Taiwan on Thursday amid tensions between China and Taiwan and between the two contending superpowers.

The forum, co-hosted by the US-Taiwan Business Council and the Taiwan Defense Industry Development Association, brought together companies from Taiwan and the United States to discuss opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the defense industry, including shipbuilding, cyber security and aerospace industries.

The event, which will be held in Taiwan in the first half of every year, attracted this year international weapons systems suppliers such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Co., Cubic Corp. and BAE Systems.

In his opening remarks, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council, said Taiwan already has strong experience in the global technology supply chain, so “there is no reason that Taiwan should not enjoy considerable success” in the global defense supply chain.

He said drawing Taiwan into the global defense supply chain is important “not only just for Taiwan’s right to provide its own security, but also to create new opportunities for Taiwan companies in the global defense market.”

Deputy minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin said at the meeting that the government policy of building military equipment such as jet trainers and submarines at home is to help create business opportunities for the local aviation and shipbuilding industries working with their US counterparts.

Robert Laing, director of the International Business Development of Lockheed Martin Corp., said his company has great interest in Taiwan’s submarine programme.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll have components of the programme to allow some of our world-class systems to be installed,” he said.

The United States agreed in 2001 to sell eight submarines to Taiwan, but it no longer builds non-nuclear-powered vessels, and countries capable of building conventional submarines have hesitated to provide them to Taiwan, fearing political consequences from China.

While the navy has never publicly spoken about the size of the underwater vessel, local media reported that it will be in the 1,500 to 2,000-tonne class. The navy did, however, say that it hopes to see the completion of a prototype by 2024 and commissioning of the vessel by 2025.

Thursday’s event came at a time when China flexes its military muscle in the region, a move Beijing said was partly in response to Washington’s recent moves in playing the “Taiwan card.”

Washington, which is already at loggerheads with Beijing over trade, has irked Beijing with its increasing support for Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province awaiting unification, by force if necessary.

Beijing has been annoyed with the US congressional approval of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorisation Act to allow high-level Pentagon officials to visit Taiwan and President Donald Trump’s endorsement of the Taiwan Travel Act to promote exchanges between high-ranking government officials.

The US State Department’s recent approval of marketing licenses to provide Taiwan with submarine technology further irritated Beijing.

Thursday’s forum is part of a series of conferences addressing the future of US defense cooperation with Taiwan, the defense procurement process and Taiwan’s defense and national security needs.

Taiwan and the United States also have the Defense Industry Conference, which began in 2002, and is held in the United States in the latter part of every year with high-ranking military officials in attendance.



Category: Taiwan

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