TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwanese government officials on Wednesday (Oct. 20) denounced a retired general for "whitewashing" China's military incursions into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
During an interview with politics expert Huang Kuang-chin (黃光芹) on Tuesday (Oct. 19), a retired army lieutenant general and head of the Kuomintang's Huang Fu-shin branch, Chi Lin-liang (季麟連), claimed the increased incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ do not constitute "harassment" and that Taiwan's government is making people panic unnecessarily.
Chi also argued that flights by People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) aircraft over the Dongsha Islands do not represent an intrusion. He said the skies over the island are "international airspace, anyone can go, we can go, they can come."
During a meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Legislative Yuan on Wednesday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said Chi was "whitewashing" China's unilateral military operations, reported Liberty Times. Chao also criticized Chi for downplaying the frequent incursions by Chinese warplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ as "harmless passages" and "drawing no distinction between Taiwan and the enemy."
Wang Ting-yu questions Chen Ming-tung. (Parliamentarytv.org.tw screenshot)
DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) chastised Chi for implying that flights over the southwest corner of Taiwan's ADIZ are not serious because the area is technically not part of Taiwan's airspace and that flights over the Dongsha Islands are even less significant because they are outside the ADIZ in "international airspace." Wang stressed that both the ADIZ and the Dongsha Islands have great strategic importance that may not be well understood by the general public, "but all generals should be fully aware," reported SET News.
Wang then asked National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Chen Ming-tung (陳明通) if Chi's statements were meant to rationalize intrusions by the Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) to weaken Taiwan's defenses and vigilance.
Chen responded by saying that he would need to investigate whether Chi's statements were made in coordination with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He added what was particularly objectionable was Chi's assertion about the Dongsha Islands because the islands are Taiwan's territory and therefore the skies over its land and waters are Taiwan's airspace.
Chen emphasized the communist regime's unification policy has not changed, nor has it renounced the use of force against Taiwan, so the country must be prepared to protect itself. "We don't seek war, but we prepare for war. Now the international community knows that we are not 'the troublemaker,' 'the troublemaker' is on the opposite shore of the strait."
In 2019, Chi was one of nine retired Taiwanese generals who were invited to attend ceremonies in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party takeover of China. However, ETtoday reports that in the end, none attended because they were worried they might be deprived of their monthly pensions or be fined NT$10 million.