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Talk of the Day -- Step forward in regional defense dialogue

2012/06/28 22:11:39

Taiwan's pursuit of attendance at regional defense dialogue saw a breakthrough earlier this year when a professor from National Defense University was invited to an international security meeting in Indonesia, local media reports said Thursday.

The reports were referring to the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue, which provided a platform for Southeast Asian security specialists and military officials to discuss regional security issues.

With dialogue focusing on the theme "Military Operations Other Than War," the conference took place in Jakarta March 21-23, the reports said.

The three-day forum drew delegates from 37 countries and Taiwan was invited to participate for the first time this year.

Defense Ministry spokesman Luo Shou-he confirmed Wednesday that Ma Chen-kun, head of the Chinese military research division at the War College of National Defense University, attended the meeting at the invitation of an Indonesian think tank.

"Professor Ma presented an academic paper at the conference," Luo added.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Lt. Gen. Liu Yazhou, a political commissar at the People's Liberation Army-run National Defense University.

It marked the first time that military representatives from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were simultaneously present at a regional defense dialogue, media reports said.

Meanwhile, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang said in an interview with a local magazine that he is willing to visit China if Beijing does not impose any prerequisites.

"When the time is ripe, I'm more than willing to visit China in my capacity as the DPP head," Su said in an interview with the Chinese-language Global View Magazine.

The following are excerpts from local media coverage of latest developments in relations across the Taiwan Strait:

Liberty Times:

When Indonesia organized an international defense dialogue last year for the first time, Taiwan tried to gain access to the new East Asian security dialogue platform.

At the time, Taiwan's was denied entry to the meeting. Indonesian authorities' attitude, however, changed late last year and extended an invitation to Taiwan early this year.

The Jakarta dialogue is similar to the Shangri-La Dialogue organized annually in Singapore by an independent think tank -- the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

The Jakarta event was reportedly sponsored by the Indonesian Ministry of Defense with an aim to strengthening dialogue in the field of defense and security so as to promote regional peace and stability.

Local military sources said Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered speeches at the opening of this year's conference, indicating that major countries attached great importance to the meeting.

Representatives from 37 countries, including defense ministers and chiefs of general staff, attended the conference whose agenda included the general world security situation and security cooperation measures for reinforcement of counter-terrorism, disaster relief and peacekeeping operations, the sources said.

In the past, China tended to block Taiwan from participating in regional defense or security dialogue mechanisms, a move that could lead to marginalization of Taiwan in regional security issues, such as South China Sea sovereignty disputes.

It remains to be seen whether China would ease its boycott against Taiwan's presence at regional security dialogue or meetings, military sources said. (June 28, 2012).

United Evening News:

Beijing officials have said the DPP's pro-independence ideology has hindered their engagements with Taiwan's main opposition party.

While DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said in a recent interview with the Global View Magazine that he would like to visit China to boost mutual understanding, he said such a visit would take place only if he is not forced to dump the DPP's basic stances.

"No one should be forced to give up his or her faith and value simply because of economic reasons," Su said.

Nevertheless, Su added that the DPP is a pragmatic party.

"I feel it would be great if I can visit China as DPP chairman. Through such interaction, we can better understand China, and at the same time, we want to help China better understand Taiwan," Su contended.

Up until know, he said, China tends to look at Taiwan from the ruling Kuomintang's angle or perspective. "We hope to change such a trend," he added. (June 28,2012).

(By Sofia Wu)