In a move that is sure to further anger China, Taiwan's Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday that some of its military officers have been sent to Italy to attend a NATO war college.
According to Taiwanese air force officer Lt. Col. Wu Bong-yeng, he was sent in 2021 to the NATO Defense College in Rome for a 6-month course that he insisted was purely academic.
Wu added, "This was an academic exchange, not a military exchange. Of course, they were very curious about Taiwan." According to Wu, he studied the same academic curriculum as officers from NATO countries and the Taiwanese Defense Ministry confirmed that other officers attended the war college as well.
While Taiwan has a history of cooperating with the U.S., it is rare for the island nation to interact with other foreign militaries. The announcement of the war college activities comes after NATO announced in its updated 2022 Strategic Concept document that China poses "systematic challenges" to the military alliance.
It was first announced in 2020 that NATO was closely monitoring China and that the alliance would strengthen its Indo-Pacific partnerships with other nations. Since that announcement, Germany, Britain, and France have joined the U.S. in sending warships into waters near China.
While the U.S. and its allies have been working to increase relations with Taiwan in recent years, China views the measures as an assault on the one-China policy, which has resulted in increased Chinese military activity and shows of force in the waters and skies around Taiwan.