Taiwan lawmaker questions container security expenditures
A Taiwanese legislator has asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate why the country is footing the bill for the U.S. Container Security Initiative program at the Port of Kaohsiung, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reached bilateral agreements to station teams in 58 ports around the world to help identify suspicious containers for export to the United States that might contain weapons of mass destruction or their components. Foreign governments participating in the program agree to install large-scale X-ray or gamma ray imaging machines to inspect containers flagged by intelligence analysts as high risk.
Lu Hsiu-yen complained during a hearing last week that the Container Security Initiative is not based on reciprocity — there are no Taiwanese officers on U.S. soil checking outbound containers to Taiwan — nor on mutual respect for sovereignty.
Chien Liang-chi, head of the Directorate General of Customs, noted that about 10 U.S. Customs officers are stationed in the port city and that the agency had paid for the container inspection equipment. He said two large imaging machines purchased by Taiwan Customs in 2005 for $5.9 million turned out to be unusable, and two other advanced machines acquired last October for $7.9 million are still not in use after undergoing test runs, the news agency said.
Lu criticized the Ministry of Finance for wasting the public funds and allowing the nation’s sovereignty to be infringed upon by another country. She questioned what benefit Taiwan receives from the program and whether the expenditure was justified, according to the report. ' Eric Kulisch