Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Taiwan has measures in place to evacuate Taiwanese expatriates from South Korea if necessary, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said Thursday, amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula.
The Ministry of National Defense has planes and ships ready to evacuate Taiwanese expatriates should the need arise and has already been in talks with other related agencies, Feng said during a hearing in the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
Feng made the remarks in response to questions by lawmaker Liu Shyh-fang (劉世芳) as to whether the ministry has the capability to evacuate the roughly 20,000 Taiwanese expatriates in South Korea, given the rising tension on the Korean peninsula.
The tension over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs have prompted Japan to announce recently that it has measures in place to evacuate Japanese expats from South Korea if necessary.
Vice Adm. Lee Chung-hsiao (李宗孝), the Navy's chief of staff, said that the Navy has two options in place. One is to take the expats directly back to Taiwan and the other is to take them to a third place for shelter.
Lt. Gen. Fan Ta-wei (范大維), the Air Force's chief of staff, said that eight planes will be available to evacuate the expats, two of which will be able to take off within 60 minutes of a deployment order being given.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has deployed its Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group to patrol the waters off the Korean peninsula.
The move was seen to assure U.S. allies in the region of its commitment to the region as North Korea has accelerated its missile testing program and is widely believed to be poised to conduct a sixth nuclear test.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elaine Hou)