Saturday, September 19, 2009

U.S., Taiwan Prepare for Key Defense Conference



U.S., Taiwan Prepare for Key Defense Conference


The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council is preparing for its sixth-annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, set to take place Sept. 9-11 in Annapolis, Md.

Based in Arlington, Va., the council is a membership-based nonprofit association, created in 1976 to cultivate trade and business ties between the United States and Taiwan. U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and John Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., are honorary co-chairs.

The conference focuses on U.S.-Taiwan defense cooperation, force modernization and national security issues. It is considered the premier defense conference covering U.S.-Taiwan military relations, and attracts some of the most powerful military and political figures dealing with Taiwan defense issues.

The conference will also cover the politics of Taiwan’s military transformation and force modernization plans, emerging cross-Strait challenges, and joint offshore and homeland defense. Conference speakers include senior government officials, members of think tanks, academia and the defense industry.

The keynote speakers this year include Ko Chen-Heng, deputy minister for policy in Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense; David Sedney, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs; and Thomas Christensen, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

“We are also delighted to welcome to the conference a delegation from the National Defense Committee of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan,” council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers said in a press release. “The legislators speaking at the conference offer a unique perspective — in particular, on building multipartisan support for a comprehensive national security policy, and on the development of the indigenous Taiwan defense industry.”

The council also produces several defense analysis reports on a quarterly basis, including the Defense and Security Report and the Defense and Security eBulletin. Since 2001, the reports have been distributed to members and to U.S. government employees only.

Taiwan is currently pushing the U.S. government to release 66 F-16 fighters to replace its aging F-5 Tigers, and approval for 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft is expected to be granted soon.

Taiwan held its Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition at the Taipei World Trade Center on Aug. 16-19. Although the show is billed as Taiwan’s largest defense exhibition, only six international defense firms participated this year. Growing disinterest in Taiwan’s defense needs is being blamed on a combination of internal political angst in Taiwan and economic and political influence from China.