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MND mum on idea of U.S. aircraft carrier visiting Taiwan

2016/05/04 12:33:39

(CNA file photo)

Taipei, May 4 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Wednesday it has no comment on suggestions by American politicians that the United States Navy consider shifting the port calls of its aircraft carriers to U.S. allies and partners, including Taiwan.

The Pentagon said in late April that Beijing refused to allow a U.S. carrier strike group, including the USS John C. Stennis, to make a port visit in Hong Kong amid strained relations over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz suggested on Twitter after the Pentagon's announcement that the strike group should reroute to Taiwan.

Representative Randy Forbes, the chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, said the "time has come to consider these alternate locations."

Deputy Defense Minister Cheng De-mei (鄭德美) said at a legislative hearing that he had no comment on the issue.

"There is no information on this as of present. We've only read the news reports," Cheng said.

Navy Chief of Staff Liu Chih-pin (劉志斌) said at the hearing that Taiwan currently has no naval ports that could accommodate a carrier strike group but that vessels could anchor off the coast.

Asked if non-military ports could be used to handle an aircraft carrier, Liu said the military would have to assess the situation.

On whether the military has assessed a potential request by an aircraft carrier to dock in Taiwan, Liu said all countries have the obligation to lend support in emergency scenarios.

He also said the government would have to make an overall assessment if the U.S. Navy were to ask to make a port call on the grounds of humanitarian assistance.

"The possibility exists. Some vessels might not be able to enter ports, but they could anchor off the coast," Liu said.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Lilian Wu)
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