Taiwan refutes report over suspension of military exchanges with Singapore

Camaron Kao in Taipei/The China Post
Asia News Network

Taipei (The China Post/ANN) - Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) has refuted a media report that Singapore has suspended bilateral military exchanges with Taiwan.

The ministry's spokesman Major Gen. Luo Shou-he commented that it is normal to re-arrange some activities to meet the needs of both sides.

According to United Daily News yesterday, the Singaporean government suspended bilateral military cooperation with Taiwan to show its strong dissatisfaction after a recent visit by Minster of National Defense Kao Hua-chu. The media reported that Kao was in Singapore for the Singapore Airshow. Hsueh Ling, a DPP legislator who revealed this news to the media, stated that Kao's visit to the Singapore Airshow was not a secret. The Singaporean government, however, maintained that both Taiwan and Singapore agreed to keep Kao's visit low profile.

The media report also mentioned that all visits of high ranking military officials from Taiwan to Singapore have been "delayed," and Singapore has not given a specific date to resume the visits.

The Singapore government has been training its navy and air force in Taiwan since 1973, and its ground forces in Taiwan since 1975. Starting in October, 1990, Singapore recognized the People's Republic of China as the only legitimate government of both the mainland and Taiwan, but the military cooperation with Taiwan continued. The Singapore government has also been training their military personnel in nearby countries. This is due to the fact that Singapore is a small nation which does not have many places to train its soldiers.

It is not the first time that covert military cooperation between Taiwan and Singapore has been revealed to the media, with the Singapore government issuing a strong response to each report.

This incident occurred after Taiwan's representative to Singapore, Vanessa Shih, was re-assigned to Taiwan earlier this month. Shih reportedly angered the Singapore government by singing the R.O.C. national anthem and raising the flag of Taiwan on National Day, as well as making contact with the opposition party in Singapore.

Singapore was the first country willing to discuss a free trade agreement with Taiwan after the nation signed the economic cooperation framework agreement with mainland China.