Fri. Dec 13th, 2019

Taiwan naval fleet to visit Palau while US army holds military exercise

Taiwan naval fleet (contributed photo)

While the United States soldiers are gearing up for a military exercise with local police in Palau, Taiwan’s naval fleet will also be coming over for a goodwill visit to the island country on April 18 to 20.

Three naval vessels called the “Fleet of Friendship” will be sailing to the nation and will bring 750 navy officers, soldiers, and cadets from Taiwan’s Naval Academy, according to a press statement sent to the media.

The goodwill visit happens to be in time for the final stretch of the US army’s scheduled military exercise with the local police slated April 14-19 where around 200 US soldiers are expected to participate in the training.

Three ships from Taiwan- the Flagship Pan-Shi, Frigate Wu-Chang, and Frigate Tien-Dan will call port in Malakal on April 18, complete with a welcoming ceremony to be headed by Palau Vice President Raynold Oilouch and Taiwan Ambassador to Palau Wallace Chow. This will be the fourteenth time that the fleet will be visiting the country. In the past years, it embarked on a series of visits to countries in the South East Asia, Pacific islands, the Middle East, Africa, and Central America, and others.

Taiwan officers will also engage with the locals by conducting drills, performing martial arts, and playing basketball at the Belau National Gymnasium.

The fleet will also open the door of one of its ships, the La Fayette class patrol ship Frigate Wu-Chang, for the locals to tour and spend time on with their families during 3pm to 5pm on April 18 and 9am to 3pm on April 19.For entry, visitors are just required to show their identification card while children under 12 years old are exempted from the requirement except they needed to be accompanied by adults.

Taiwan is among Palau’s allies that is supporting the enhancement of its maritime security. Just recently, during the state visit of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to Palau last month, Taiwan had donated a small patrol boat to the country as part of the signed agreement on maritime cooperation with the country. Aside from that, young Palauans also avail of free education and training at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Zuoying, Kaohsiung.

The United States and Taiwan are among entities that are supporting Palau’s policing capabilities in both land and sea. The United States, despite having no formal diplomatic ties with Taipei, had been openly expressive about its support for Taiwan’s embrace of democracy and even affirmed nations that support the latter amid news of China ramping up pressure to assert claim over Taipei which it considers as its province.

Just recently, some United States lawmakers introduced a legislation called the Taiwan Assurance Act to boost Washington’s ties with Taiwan, a move seen to heighten tensions with China.

US Republican Senator Tom Cotton was quoted in a report by Reuters, saying that the legislation will send a message that China’s “aggressive Cross-Strait behavior will not be tolerated.” (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)