Taiwan officer trained in Italy. Lieutenant Colonel Wu Bong-yeng, a Taiwanese air force officer, revealed to Reuters that he attended a six-month academic programme with senior Italian officials at the NATO Defense College in Rome in 2021, returning home in January 2022.
- It’s a noteworthy, rare interaction between the Atlantic Alliance official bodies and Taipei – which is not formally partnered with NATO but enjoys close defence ties with its most influential member, Washington.
Nothing structural, of course. As the Taiwanese issue is an extremely sensitive area in China-West relations, with Western countries seeking to avert hostilities by promoting the current status quo, covert military cooperation between Taiwan and official NATO structures would be nothing short of seismic news.
- “This was an academic exchange, not a military exchange,” clarified Mr Wu. “Of course they were very curious about Taiwan […] They need to understand our country’s situation, and our abilities.”
- Taiwan’s defence ministry told Reuters that Mr Wu was not the first officer it had sent to the Defense College in Rome.
- Speaking to Reuters, the Alliance’s officials also underscored it had no formal partnership with Taipei. And while “NATO’s educational institutions […] have engaged with actors from across the region, including from Taipei,” over the years, such institutions are not part of the Alliance’s command structure.