Ex-US diplomat rankles Taiwan with defence remarks
TAIPEI (AP) - The former top American diplomat in Taiwan has said that the island's declining military budgets have left it vulnerable to Chinese attack and made it easier for mainland spies to penetrate its armed forces, remarks that the defence ministry called "not entirely objective".
The comments from Mr William Stanton constituted an unusually hard-hitting critique of Taiwan's national security posture, and stood in sharp contrast to repeated assertions of American support for President Ma Ying-jeou's five-year programme of seeking to lower tensions with the mainland, from which Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949.
A career diplomat, Mr Stanton was head of the de facto US embassy in Taiwan from August 2009 to August 2012. His remarks came in a speech before a pro-independence organization in Taipei on Friday.
Responding to the charges, the defence ministry acknowledged on Monday that between 2003 and 2008 unspecified "political reasons" led to cuts in the duration of military service "which impacted negatively on the quality of military exercises and on force preparedness." It did not elaborate.