Taiwan military capable of protecting nation: defense minister
TAIPEI, (CNA).- Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) on Friday reiterated the ministry's ability to defend the nation.
The minister was responding to a CNN report Thursday, which said the United States is planning a show of force in areas close to Chinese-claimed territory in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
Yen said the Ministry of National Defense is closely monitoring the situation.
"People in Taiwan do not need to worry," Yen said at a hearing held at the Legislative Yuan. "The military is capable of ensuring national security and defending the country."
In the report, CNN cited several unnamed U.S. military officials as saying "the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet has drawn up a classified proposal to carry out a global show of force as a warning to China and to demonstrate the U.S. is prepared to deter and counter their military actions" in November.
According to the report, the U.S. aims to send ships close to Chinese-claimed waters in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait in a freedom of navigation operation to demonstrate the right of free passage in international waters.
The U.S. military officials said in the CNN report that the proposal, which will involve U.S. warships, combat aircraft and troops, means U.S. ships and aircraft would operate close to Chinese forces.
However, the U.S. defense officials said the planned exercise indicated no intention to engage in combat with China.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the proposal with David Eastburn, a Pentagon spokesman, saying in the CNN report the department does not comment on future operations of any kind.
Yen said the reported U.S. Navy operations are Washington's decision so Taiwan's defense ministry is not in a position to comment on the plan.
Nevertheless, Yen emphasized that whether in the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan's military is immediately aware of any change in Chinese military deployments so local people can rest assured about the security of the nation.
On Wednesday, Yen said at another legislative hearing that protecting Taiwan is in the national interest of the United States because Taiwan plays a role in maintaining regional peace.
The Wednesday comments came after the minister was asked by lawmakers to comment on U.S. veteran journalist Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," in which U.S. President Donald Trump is quoted as asking the National Security Council: "What do we get from protecting Taiwan?"
(By Wang Cheng-chung and Frances Huang)