Taiwan defence minister visiting Singapore, says military source

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 February, 2014, 5:56pm

Taiwan’s defence minister is visiting Singapore to shore up military relations which were reportedly damaged after his predecessor’s visit in 2012 was publicly disclosed, a military source and local media said on Tuesday.

Yen Ming arrived in the city-state on Monday at the invitation of Singapore’s authorities, a military source said.

Aside from visiting the ongoing airshow, Yen will call on military authorities as part of efforts to “promote military co-operation”, the United Evening News reported.

Taiwan’s defence ministry declined comment, unlike in 2012 when it confirmed a rare visit to Singapore by the then-defence minister Kao Hua-chu.

Local media reported at the time that Singapore authorities had protested to Taiwan’s defence ministry, claiming publicity surrounding the visit violated the tacit understanding it would be kept secret.

Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic ties with Singapore but has provided training venues for its artillery, armoured vehicles and infantry units.

Singapore, like most countries, officially recognises China and is said to be keen on keeping its military exchanges with Taiwan as low-profile as possible.

In the past, visits by top Singaporean officials to Taiwan triggered strong protests from China.

China still claims Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary, even though ties have improved markedly since Taiwan’s current Beijing-friendly government came to power in 2008.

In the Chinese city of Nanjing, the two sides on Tuesday held their first government-to-government talks since they split 65 years ago after a civil war.