Taiwan Officer Reveals Details of Rare Interaction with NATO

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A Taiwan air force officer revealed details on a rare interaction between the island’s military and NATO, describing how he had attended a six-month academic programme with senior officials in Italy.

Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has no formal diplomatic relations with any NATO members, but has close defence ties with the United States, the island’s main international source of arms and NATO’s largest member state.

Speaking to reporters on a trip to the Hsinchu air base in northern Taiwan, air force Lieutenant Colonel Wu Bong-yeng said “he had attended a six-month course at the NATO Defence College in Rome in 2021, returning to Taiwan in January last year.

This was an academic exchange, not a military exchange,” he said. “Of course they were very curious about Taiwan.”

They need to understand our country’s situation, and our abilities,” he said.

NATO, in response to questions on Wu’s attendance, said it had no formal partnership with Taiwan.

Over the years, NATO’s educational institutions, such as the NATO Defense College and the NATO School Oberammergau, have engaged with actors from across the region, including from Taipei,” a NATO official said, adding these institutions are not part of NATO’s command structure.

It referred further questions to the college, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Taiwan’s defence ministry says Wu was not the first officer it had sent to the defence college. It did not elaborate. Reports said.

While the Taiwanese and U.S. militaries do cooperate, including some Taiwanese fighter pilots training in the United States, the island has only limited interactions with other foreign militaries.

In its new strategic concept agreed in June, NATO described China as a challenge to the alliance’s “interests, security and values”, as an economic and military power that remains “opaque about its strategy, intentions and military build-up.

China has increased its military, political and economic pressure on the island over the past three years to assert its sovereignty claims, which are strongly rejected by Taiwan.

Taiwan has vowed to defend itself if attacked and says only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.




Reuters /Shakirat Sadiq

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