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Taiwan to continue military relations with Singapore

Ministry of Defense says Starlight Program unaffected by China-Singapore defense agreement

Taiwan and Singapore continue military cooperation. (Facebook photo)

Taiwan and Singapore continue military cooperation. (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said Monday (Oct. 28) that the joint Taiwanese-Singaporean Starlight Program will continue to operate despite the recent signing of a China-Singapore defense agreement.

An updated defense agreement to boost military exercises between China and Singapore was inked Oct. 20 by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) and Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen (黃永宏). The deal also promises to facilitate frequent defense dialogues and interactions between the two countries' troops.

Many Taiwanese have raised concerns over the potential suspension of the Starlight Program, a deal established in 1975 that allows Singapore's armed forces to train in Taiwan and provide services to Taiwanese citizens. The Starlight Force has participated in rescue missions in the aftermath of disasters such as the 921 Earthquake and Eight-Eight Flood, according to Storm Media.

Speaking before a defense budget review meeting at the Legislative Yuan, Yen told the press that Singapore has not contacted the Taiwanese government about ending military cooperation. Details about the Starlight Program will be confirmed next month when a delegation from Taiwan visits Singapore, reported UDN.