U.S. reassures Taiwan on cooperation after missile incident

By Rita Cheng and Flor Wang/ July 6, 2016 / Originally posted at FocusTaiwan

Washington, July 5 (CNA) The United States has reassured Taiwan of its continuing cooperation after Taiwan’s Navy mistakenly fired a live missile into the Taiwan Strait on July 1.

“We are aware of reports about the accidental firing of a missile from a Taiwan Navy vessel. We are in contact with Taiwan authorities. We regret the reported loss of life associated with this incident,” U.S. Department of State East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau spokesperson Grace Choi told CNA in an e-mail Tuesday.

Choi did not see the incident as affecting future U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

“Our policy on U.S.-Taiwan defense cooperation is unchanged and continues to be based on the three joint U.S.-China communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act,” she said.

“The U.S. government remains firmly committed to supporting Taiwan’s ability to defend itself, consistent with the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

When asked how the U.S. viewed Taiwan-China interactions following the missile incident, Choi hoped it would not have much of an impact on relations across the Taiwan Strait.

“The United States has an enduring interest in the maintenance of peaceful and stable cross-Strait ties. We urge both sides to continue their constructive dialogue on the basis of dignity and respect,” she wrote.

The incident involved a Hsiung Feng III missile being accidentally launched from a 500-ton Chinchiang-class corvette docked in Zuoying Military Harbor in Kaohsiung during a drill.

The missile hit a Taiwanese fishing boat about 40 nautical miles away and killed the boat’s captain.

Military authorities in Taiwan have said the missile firing was an accident caused by a series of missteps by naval officers and sailors on the ship that was conducting the drill.

But China has demanded that Taiwan give a reasonable explanation of the incident and claimed it had very serious consequences.

Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said shortly after the accidental missile firing that it had “a serious impact,” without elaborating on what the impact might be.

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