Amid Apache case, AIT says United States military commitments unchanged
The United States’ commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) remain unchanged, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Friday, amid fears that bilateral cooperation would be affected by recent lax security in Taiwan’s military.
In terms of cooperation, AIT spokesman Mark Zimmer confirmed that “our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act remain unchanged.” The AIT represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
The TRA was enacted on April 10, 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural and other relations between the U.S. and Taiwan after Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing. The TRA also requires the U.S. “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”
Zimmer confirmed that relations between Taiwan and the U.S. have not changed as a result of the recent controversy over military personnel giving civilians access to the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter.
One celebrity who toured the chopper had her picture taken in the helicopter’s cockpit and posted it online, and an Apache pilot wore the helicopter’s flight helmet to a private party, sparking charges of lax security and fears secrets were leaked.
Zimmer’s remarks came one day after Vice Chief of the General Staff Adm. Pu Tze chun said that after discussing the situation with AIT officials, U.S. officials said U.S. arms sales to Taiwan would not be affected by the incidents.
During a hearing of a legislative committee Thursday, Pu also said that the U.S. was not treating the Apache helmet as a classified item and that there was no problem with taking a photo with the Apache as long as the chopper was not activated.
The only thing that concerned the U.S., Pu said, was whether the incidents have affected the morale of Taiwan’s military, given that some Taiwanese officers are still being trained in the U.S. as part of U.S. arms sales programs to Taiwan.
Pu was responding to questions by lawmakers, who were concerned the relations between Taiwan and the U.S. would be affected by the recent scandals.
At the center of the scandals is Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, the deputy head of a helicopter squadron in Taoyuan under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, who has since been removed from his post after he was found to have given a group of civilians access to the Apaches in breach of regulations on visitors to military bases.
He also wore the Apache flight helmet as part of a Halloween costume at a party at his home, according to a Defense Ministry investigation.
The Apaches were purchased from the U.S. in a deal for 30 of the choppers. The model E is the latest in the Apache attack helicopter series and Taiwan is among only a few countries using it so far.