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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Beyond the F-16, Hawaiʻi maintains quiet ties with Taiwan

United-States Taiwan Emergency Landing Taiwanese Air Force flag bearer passes by one of the newly commissioned upgraded F-16V fighter jets at Air Force base in Chiayi, southwestern Taiwan
Johnson Lai/AP
FILE - A Taiwanese Air Force flag bearer passes by one of the newly commissioned upgraded F-16V fighter jets at Chiayi Air Base, southwestern Taiwan, Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai, File)

Many Hawaiʻi residents were surprised to hear that a Taiwanese military aircraft made an emergency landing Monday afternoon at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

But when it comes to U.S. relations with the Taipei government, Hawaiʻi is often a quiet partner.

Last October, a group of senior Taiwanese Army officials came to Hawaiʻi for a series of meetings — including with the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

That news didn’t come out by way of a press release — but a sourced report from a Taiwanese media outlet — the United Daily News.

UDN also reported that U.S. Marines deployed from Indo-Pacific Command had been training special forces units from Taiwan.

In 2019, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited three Pacific Island nations that recognize the Taipei government.

Despite Chinese objections, the trip included a stop-over in Hawaiʻi.

Earlier this year, Newsweek reported that Hawaiʻi was Taiwan’s first choice for a training location for Taiwan’s national guard forces — funded by the National Defense Authorization Act.

As for this week’s F-16 incident in Hawaiʻi, Taiwan’s TVBS News was the first to report the unmarked plane belonged to Taiwan’s air force — and was on a scheduled return to Taiwan for an upgrade.

Several media outlets report the plane was operated by a U.S. pilot.

Links between Hawaiʻi and Taiwan may be sensitive to some, but they are far from secret.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Honolulu takes part in public events all the time — and also has a Military Liaison Division.

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