In what is a rare show of cooperation between Taiwan and the Western military alliance, Taiwan Defense Ministry revealed that it sent some of its top military officers to a NATO war college in Italy. The ministry announced the move, which is sure to annoy China, on Wednesday.
According to Reports, Taiwanese air force officer Lt. Col. Wu Bong-yeng shared that he went on a six-month course at the NATO Defence College in Rome in 2021. Bong-yeng added that he returned to Taiwan in January 2021.
“This was an academic exchange, not a military exchange,” Bong-yeng said. “Of course, they were very curious about Taiwan. They need to understand our country’s situation and our abilities.”
Taiwan army officers getting trained by NATO… What could go wrong? 🤷♂️
More puzzling, why choose to announce this to the press?
The story is often why a story becomes a story. Looks like they purposefully want to trigger China with provocations…https://t.co/RDryAwuGmc
— Arnaud Bertrand (@RnaudBertrand) January 11, 2023
Bong-yeng studied the same curriculum as other officers from NATO countries. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry confirmed that other officers had been sent to the college.
While Taiwan is not a NATO member, the tiny island has enjoyed support from the organization and its member nation, including the U.S. The U.S. military and Taiwan have ongoing cooperation with some Taiwanese fighter pilots training in the United States.
A NATO official, however, confirmed that it had no formal partnership with Taiwan and NATO Defense College and the NATO School Oberammergau have engaged with actors all around the world, including Taiwan. The official revealed that both institutions are not part of NATO’s command structure.
The college also released a statement saying that non-NATO entities’ personnel may attend some of its courses. However, personnel from non-NATO nations would have to get final approval from NATO headquarters before they can begin their courses.
While China has not responded to the revelations, past experience shows that Beijing would not be very pleased with the news. China, who views Taiwan as part of its territory, reacted with fury when former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Taipei last year.
China reacted to Pelosi’s visit by blasting missiles over Taiwan and conducting intense military exercises in the waters surrounding the tiny nation, according to the New York Post.