Taiwan’s air force officer has revealed details of a rare interaction with NATO and the island’s military. He described how he attended a six-month academic program in Italy.
Taiwan is claimed by China to be its territory. However, it has strong defense ties with the United States.
On a visit to Hsinchu, Lieutenant Colonel Wu Bongyeng, an air force officer, said that he was returning from a course in Rome, Italy, in June 2021.
He said, “This was not a military exchange. It was an academic exchange.” They were “of course very curious about Taiwan.”
He said, “They must understand the situation in our country and our capabilities.”
NATO didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said that Wu wasn’t the first person it sent to the college. The defense ministry did not provide further details.
Although the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries cooperate (including some Taiwanese fighter pilots who are training in the United States), the interactions between the two countries with foreign militaries are limited.
NATO’s June strategic plan described China as a threat to its “interests and security” and as an economic-military power, but it remains opaque about its intentions, strategy, and military buildup.
China increased its political, military, and economic pressures on Taiwan over the last three years in order to claim its sovereignty. Taiwan strongly rejects these claims.
Taiwan vows to defend itself against being attacked, and the Taiwanese say only they can determine their destiny.
China conducted combat exercises in Taiwan on Sunday for the second consecutive time. China held large-scale war exercises around Taiwan in August to protest Nancy Pelosi, the then Speaker of the U.S. House.
Hsinchu is a hub for semiconductor production and also has one of Taiwan’s largest air bases that are responsible for protecting Taiwan’s northern.
On Wednesday, the defense ministry stated that flying exercises with Mirage Jets made in France were part of routine drills.
Although Taiwan’s Air Force is highly trained, it’s far less powerful than China’s. Taiwan has been under constant strain due to having to fight off Chinese planes in the area and within its air defense zone.