Friday, June 24, 2011

Ex-US Army chief of staff visits Taiwan

Such visits, though low profile, are nevertheless perceived as a symbol of continued US involvement, both at the official and unofficial level, in the defense of Taiwan

A little more than two months after retiring as US Army chief of staff, four-star General George Casey Jr is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of the Republic of China Army, sources have confirmed to the Taipei Times.

Among other activities, Casey was scheduled to address National Defense University sometime this week. Although the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) would neither confirm the visit nor provide an itinerary, Casey is believed to have visited the AIT’s office as well as the site of its future home in Neihu (內湖). Unconfirmed reports say Casey has also visited a number of military bases and is being escorted around by a Defense Intelligence Agency official from the institute.

A spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, who also would not confirm Casey’s visit, said it was not unusual for Taiwan to extend invitations to recently retired senior US military officers.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

1 comment:

Jerome Besson said...

I would not put much stock by whatever the governing authorities may tell their audiences, both domestic and international. When they have good reasons to be wary of the consequences to themselves of a move they certainly do not welcome at this juncture, their version that they are welcoming a US military move back into Taiwanese defense affairs is standard press release boilerplate meant to hoodwink the public.

Keep in mind that from the advent of the ROC onward, Chinese have scored points only on the propaganda front. Back then, they used to:
• blame the gory results of their incompetence on others (catastrophic bombings of Shanghai);
• put their own in harm’s way (urban warfare at Shanghai and failing to declare Nanjing opened, all under the eye of gullible westerners too eager to side with “our Chinese flock”);
• even resorting to expending their own (blowing up of the Yellow River levees at Huayuanzhuang);
to better cater to the western powers needs for demonizing Japan.

As American involvement in military affairs – and, hopefully, also in the civil affairs of the island – will grow more obvious, face will be harder to secure. Incidents will arise from seemingly utterly unrelated corners. Like say, Taiwan First Nations claiming that a military installation or activity intrudes on their ancestral land, southern farmers protesting the magnetic field of a radar station, and fishers irate that coast-guard patrols are messing their fishing grounds

A sure sign that face is irretrievably lost will be women-led protests. I even expect one or two confused Japanese female representatives from the DPJ and affiliates to find her way at the front of an anti-American protest on Ketagalan or opposite the new AIT compound, standing proud, shoulder-to-shoulder with the self-styled Pasionaria of the Atayals.

Chinese elites are deft at making others fight for their causes while putting their best foot forward in entertaining the source of their headaches. With a reassertion of US military presence still under the radar, the most innocuous-looking blurb, like the ruckus they attempted to raise over the construction works of the new AIT compound, deserves your scrutiny.