STRATEGIC VISION Volume 2, Issue 7 w
for Taiwan Security w ISSN 2227-3646
Early Warning Radar Station in Hsinchu J. Michael Cole North Korea Tests Nuclear Device Dean Karalekas Taiwan’s Indigenous Missile Program Michal Thim New Chinese Leadership Edward Hsieh Taiwan’s Middle Power Diplomacy Julian Rothkopf
STRATEGIC VISION for Taiwan Security w February, 2013 Volume 2, Issue 7
Contents Early-warning radar station operational......................................................4 J. Michael Cole North Korea conducts nuclear test...................................................................8 Dean Karalekas Taiwan missile program spurs strategy debate.........................................13 Michal Thim Prospects for reform under new Chinese leaders...................................19 Edward Hsieh Taiwan positioned for middle power diplomacy...................................24 Julian Rothkopf
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Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Raviprasad Narayanan Richard Hu Felix Wang Lipin Tien Laurence Lin STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 2, Number 7, February, 2013, published under the auspices of the Center for Security Studies and National Defense University. All editorial correspondence should be mailed to the editor at STRATEGIC VISION, Center for Security Studies in Taiwan. No. 64, Wan Shou Road, Taipei City 11666, Taiwan, ROC. The editors are responsible for the selection and acceptance of articles; responsibility for opinions expressed and accuracy of facts in articles published rests solely with individual authors. The editors are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts; unaccepted manuscripts will be returned if accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed return envelope. Photographs used in this publication are used courtesy of the photographers, or through a creative commons licence. All are attributed appropriately. Any inquiries please contact the Executive Editor directly via email at: email@example.com.Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: www.mcsstw.org. © Copyright 2013 by the Center for Security Studies. Articles in this periodical do not necessarily represent the views of either the MCSS, NDU, or the editors.
From The Editor e here at Strategic Vision are honored to embark upon our second year in publication, and are glad to have you join us as we continue to analyze the events and trends in cross-strait and Asia-Pacific security as they reshape our world. In addition, it is our fervent hope that you had a wonderful Lunar New Year, and that the Year of the Snake has something good in store for all our readers. We have several exciting things to look forward to in the new year. We are sporting a new, dynamic look on our cover, and we are planning two special issues in 2013, in addition to our regular bi-monthly issues. We launch our second year with an exciting issue, beginning with J. Michael Cole’s look at the new Early Warning Radar station that has just begun operations in Taiwan’s Hsinchu County, and the implications this has for Taiwan’s place in the American pivot to Asia. Our executive editor, Dean Karalekas, examines the recent nuclear test conducted by the government in North Korea, and what it tells us about the fledgling regime of Kim Jong Un. Michal Thim offers a provocative assessment of Taipei’s indigenous missile program and how it factors into the strategic calculus, with special attention paid to the prospects for adopting pre-emptive contingencies and a “porcupine” strategy. Edward Hsieh returns with an analysis of the new leadership in Beijing and the prospects for political reform in China under the Chinese Communist Party. Finally, CSS research assistant Julian Rothkopf looks at the concept of middle power diplomacy, and how Taipei might best adopt such a paradigm as it attempts to influence events in the Asia-Pacific region. Once again, we are extremely proud to continue providing the very best in coverage and analysis of the military, security, and political changes that affect our region, and are glad to play a part in keeping our readers up to date with the information they need. All our best wishes for the Year of the Snake, or as we like to refer to it, the Year of the Little Dragon! Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision
Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 7 (February, 2013)
Eyes On Target J. Michael Cole
New radar station gives Taiwan crucial role in regional security infrastructure
fter nearly a decade and US$1.37 billion, Taiwan’s long-range early-warning radar (EWR) system on Leshan, Hsinchu County, officially began operations this month. Although the system’s capabilities substantially enhance Taiwan’s situational awareness, another—and perhaps more significant—benefit is the role it can play in securing Taiwan’s position as part of the US strategic defense network in the Asia-Pacific region. That the system itself finally came online is cause for celebration. Plans to acquire a long-range EWR first took shape 14 years ago, in 1999, when the Ministry
of National Defense (MND) expressed an interest in bolstering its surveillance capabilities under the Surveillance Radar Program (SRP). The following year, the administration of US President Bill Clinton, under pressure from Congress to help Taiwan address the growing threat posed by China’s ballistic missiles, agreed to initiate the long process. Controversial from its inception, it took four years for the Legislative Yuan to finally agree, in November 2003, to set aside US$800 million for the acquisition of one EWR station. Initially, the MND considered two options: Raytheon Corp’s AN/FPS-115 Pave
Photo: Kenneth The newly operational Early-Warning Radar station on Leshan in Taiwan’s Hsinchu County gives the ROC military unprecedented monitoring capabilities.
J. Michael Cole is a Taipei-based correspondent on China and Taiwan for Jane’s Defence Weekly, deputy news chief at the Taipei Times, and a regular columnist for The Diplomat.
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photo: ROC Presidential Office President Ma Ying-jeou and his entourage visit the Early Warning Radar station on Leshan in Taiwan’s Hsinchu County while under construction in 2009.
Paws, and Lockheed Martin’s LM Digital UHF Radar. Despite the legislature’s decision to allocate funds for one radar only, in March the following year the Department of Defense notified Congress of two ultra-high-frequency EWRs. Taiwan never committed to more than one EWR, and in June 2005, the MND concluded a US$752 million contract with Raytheon after Lockheed Martin pulled out of the competition. The program was initiated under contract with US Air Force Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Thus began a long and oftentimes frustrating process marred by delays, cost overruns, and mistrust, which prompted cynics to conclude that the project— which some legislators dubbed a “money pit”—would never see the light of day. But open its eyes it did. The EWR, by now having cost Taiwan US$1.37 billion, first came online on December 12, 2012, when North Korea launched a three-stage Unha-3 rocket. According to MND, the EWR, which is based on a modernized version of the AN/FPS-115, performed well in tracking the rocket, detecting the first- and second-stage boosters
as they crashed into waters off South Korea and the Philippines, as well as the main rocket as it flew over waters about 200 kilometers east of Taiwan. Described by defense experts as the world’s most powerful land-based EWR, the 10-story-high system can detect, track, and cue as many as 1,000 long- and
“Such advance warning will give Taiwan an extra six to eight minutes to react to a surprise missile attack by China’s Second Artillery Corps.” short-range (less than 200km-range) ballistic missiles, low-cross-section cruise missiles, and other air-breathing targets simultaneously within a range of approximately 3,000km, providing a hitherto unthinkable picture of Chinese airspace. The information collected by the EWR is then transmitted over a Link 16 datalink to aircraft and surface-to-air missile batteries, such as the US-made PAC-3 and the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology’s Tien Kung II.
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photo: MND The Leshan EWR station will supplement existing systems, such as this E-2T aircraft, giving Taiwan an extra 6-8 minutes to respond to a Chinese attack.
Such advance warning will give Taiwan an extra six to eight minutes to react to a surprise missile attack by China’s Second Artillery Corps—critical time that could allow Taiwan’s Air Force and Navy to disperse fighter aircraft and surface vessels before impact. It would also give Taiwan’s air-defense systems more time to spring into action should China seek to coerce Taipei through limited missile strikes—a scenario seen by some experts as more likely than a large-scale, devastating barrage aimed at annihilating the Republic of China (ROC) military.
though the reasons for such a move remain obscure. Satellite tracking could have enabled Taiwan to deactivate or shoot down Chinese orbiters, or to share that information with an ally that possesses laser or anti-satellite capabilities.
“Taipei has every advantage in sharing intelligence with its principal security partner.”
Missile threat According to MND reports, China now aims about 1,600 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles at Taiwan, with approximately 300 cruise missiles and other projectiles at the ready as well. The facility can also conduct maritime ship tracking should that option be enabled, and although the EWR can theoretically track satellites, a February 2012 report in Jane’s Defence Weekly said that its space-tracking capability would likely be “software disabled,”
MND and Raytheon have refused to comment on the matter. Presumably, the decision could stem from fear of angering Beijing to reluctance on Washington’s part to allow the EWR to track US satellites—information that, through espionage, could end up in Chinese hands. Another possibility advanced by an industry source is that Taiwan has not requested such functionality, as China’s satellites did not present a serious threat at the time negotiations were held. Although MND is aware of the importance of tracking Chinese satel-
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lites today—including the Beidou Navigation Satellite System and an assortment of “scientific” orbiters with possible military roles—it has yet to develop a coherent strategic plan or develop the requisite institutional sponsorship for space-related operations, Jane’s said.
Target for attacks The system, especially its high costs (in December 2012, the Pentagon announced an additional maintenance and R&D contract of US$290 million through November 2017), is not without its critics. Some argue that the huge expenditure is not worth the extra six to eight minutes it will provide, adding that in a combat scenario, China would likely make the EWR one of its top priorities for attack. “It’s big, immobile, and its position is known, so it will be easy to hit,” Roger Cliff, a non-resident senior fellow at the Washington-based Project 2049 Institute, said of the EWR, adding that China has the ability to overwhelm Taiwan’s air defense systems by firing a large quantity of ballistic missiles. Another way to disable it would be to saturate it with antiradiation missiles. That said, the EWR’s greatest value might not lie with the extra few minutes’ warning it provides. Instead, it has tremendous potential as a means to turn Taiwan into an intrinsic and crucial component of US forces’ security posture in the Asia Pacific. Although MND officials have been reluctant to discuss the possible sharing of intelligence collected by the EWR with the United States during unclassified briefings with legislators, it is hard to imagine that Washington would have allowed Raytheon to build the most powerful radar system on the face of the planet without in return reaping some of the benefits, finances aside. Furthermore, given the level of cooperation between the ROC military and US forces, added to the possibility that the United States (and perhaps Japan)
could provide assistance in time of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, Taipei has every advantage in sharing intelligence with its principal security partner. More than anything that Taipei could have done, the entry into service of the EWR, and the intelligence collected by the system, ensures that Taiwan can play a vital role in the US pivot to Asia. It is one of the few military assets within the region that other countries do not possess at the moment, and its position directly opposite China is unequaled. Given its efforts to improve ties with China, the administration of ROC President Ma Ying-jeou may be wary of overstating the importance of the EWR, or the nature of intelligence exchanges between the MND and the US military. But the political signaling attendant to its entry into service, and the possibilities it creates for Taiwan to join the fledging regional security architecture, undeniably make the EWR one of the most important additions to Taiwan’s defense capabilities in recent years. n
Photo: Setaou A ground-to-air missile on display at the China Aviation Museum in Beijing. Chinese missiles constitute the primary threat to Taiwan security.
Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 7 (February, 2013)
Nuclear Family Dean Karalekas
North Korean leader follows family tradition with global nuclear brinksmanship
photo: Michael Tyler
A North Korean propaganda poster depicts Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. The latter’s son, Kim Jong Un, appears to be continuing his father’s nuclear legacy.
fter months of speculation that the North Korean regime was planning to conduct a nuclear test, seismic monitoring stations around Asia detected a magnitude 5.1 earthquake on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 that appeared to emanate from an area of land on the Korean Peninsula—the area known as The Punggyeri Nuclear Test Facility, where the secretive regime tested nuclear devices twice before. Within hours, Pyongyang confirmed that it had successfully detonated an underground, controlled nuclear test device. The shock waves, both literally and figuratively, were felt throughout the region, with governments roundly
condemning the act as unnecessarily provocative. Even China, which is known for soft pedaling, at least in public, even the more egregiously hostile actions of its ally, issued words of condemnation, with Yang Jiechi, China’s foreign minister, reportedly urging Pyongyang to stop “rhetoric or acts that could worsen situations and return to the right course of dialogue and consultation.” The wider implications of the test, and the course that the secretive regime appears to be on, have yet to be felt, however. First and foremost, the reaction of the United States is key. The government of North Korea used the test to pressure Washington into di-
Dean Karalekas is a researcher with National Chengchi University’s Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies and executive editor of Strategic Vision. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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rect negotiations. Pyongyang is keen to normalize relations with the global superpower, and has called for the signing of a peace treaty between the two countries, which technically remain in a state of war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty, 60 years ago. The pattern of taking provocative action in the hopes of luring the United States back to the negotiating table is a tried and tested method, and the younger Kim appears to have learned from his father’s track record in this regard. It is unlikely that Washington will acquiesce to such a tactic, however, as policymakers long ago learned that the best way to win this game with the North Korean regime is not to play. Instead, US policy for several years has been to enlist the aid of China in reining in its unpredictable client state. Hence an important aspect in the timing of the event: it serves as an excellent means of testing the mettle of several new governments in the East Asian region, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe elected by a
landslide vote in Japan, and President Park Geun Hye taking the reins of power in South Korea. The two are fresh from forming new governments, both having been elected in December, and both are considered right-wing politicians expected to take hawkish positions on the North Korea issue.
Chinese reaction Likewise, late 2012 saw the transfer of power at Zhongnanhai from the fourth generation of Chinese Communist Party leaders to the fifth generation, with Xi Jinping being named China’s next president and head of the party’s Central Military Commission. Unlike his predecessor, Xi is a princeling with strong ties to the military, and is likely to eschew efforts to promote liberalization and focus on building China’s economic and military strength as a means of restoring the country’s historically central leadership position in the Asian region. As such, Pyongyang may
Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.
The third nuclear explosion was conducted at the Punggye-ri test site; the same facility as North Korea`s first two nuclear tests, held in 2006 and 2009.
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have used the opportunity of the third nuclear detonation (the previous two were conducted in 2006 and 2009) as a means of testing the new leadership of its patron state, to determine if it would be more amenable to such provocative acts or if it would dither in its official response, as had its predecessors.
“Sanctions serve ultimately to punish the already impoverished populace of the closed state, with relatively little impact on the elite.” The reaction from Beijing was uncharacteristically swift, but did not favor the North Korean position, however, with official denunciations of the nuclear test and an expanded presence of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops reported along the Yalu River— China’s border with North Korea. Despite this, it is unlikely that China will take further actions in the form of sanctions against its fellow Communist re-
gime. For one thing, such sanctions serve ultimately to punish the already impoverished populace of the closed state, with relatively little impact on the elite power holders or the military. Were China to cut down on its aid provisions (Beijing reportedly disburses 100,000 tons of food, 500,000 tons of oil, and US$20 million in goods annually to Pyongyang), it would risk creating a refugee crisis along its shared border—a consequence Beijing is desperate to avoid. In addition to its desire to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the North, China is keen to avoid a breakout of hostilities in the region—at least one that would divert valuable military assets and resources into a conflict in which Beijing stands little to gain but a resumption of the status quo ante, and away from its own territorial concerns, such as the situation in the East China Sea and South China Sea, where it is already engaged in a geopolitical gambit with a huge potential payoff. “Beijing is not going to push the regime to the wall, because they don’t want a war and they don’t want a
photo: European Commission DG ECHO The North Korean agricultural infrastructure is lacking, and many fields lie fallow. As a result, the reclusive regime relies on food aid, primarily from China.
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change to the status quo that favors the US,” Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the Beijing-based Northeast Asia director for the International Crisis Group, was reported as saying. Indeed, in 2008 it was revealed that China has contingency plans in the event of instability in North Korea—plans that include the mobilization of PLA troops into the neighboring country in order to secure nuclear weapons. According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the US Institute of Peace, these plans would not rely exclusively on international consultations but could be conducted unilaterally. While this contingency is seen only as an outside possibility, it is undeniable that the third nuclear test raised tensions in an already tense region. In reaction to the reports of Chinese troop movements, Japan mobilized its own armed forces in preparation for further aggressive actions, and already there are renewed domestic calls for Japan to consider acquiring nuclear weapons of its own, as well as to revisit Article 9 of its pacifist Constitution which formally renounces war as a sovereign right and bans settlement of international disputes through the use of force.
photo: Petersnoopy In power just a year, Kim Jong Un presided over the latest nuclear test.
Rules of engagement In South Korea, meanwhile, troops stationed along the heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the regime in the North from its southern neighbor received new orders in the wake of the nuclear test. The unit known as Invincible Typhoon, positioned less than a kilometer from the DMZ, received new rules of engagement allowing soldiers to return fire immediately against North Korean forces without the need to seek permission from army chiefs in Seoul. Moreover, South Korea’s Presidential Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security Chun Young-woo unveiled plans to deploy missiles
capable of hitting targets anywhere in North Korea as soon as possible. Domestically, this third nuclear test was clearly an attempt to consolidate power on the part of Kim Jong Un, on the throne now for just over a year after the death of his father, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il. There has been speculation about what course the young (estimated at just 29 years of age) dictator will chart, with some analysts predicting a move toward liberalization, at least of the economy, due in part to the Western-educated leader’s greater worldliness. The recent nuclear test provides evidence against that prediction. Regionally, while it may have been the misguided intention of the North Korean regime to force a return to the six-party talks and thereby increase the international interaction of the so-called hermit kingdom, it has instead had the effect of exacerbating the militarization of the region—already underway due to tensions related to maritime insecurity over the
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many disputed islands in the region’s littoral—and contributing to regional polarization and the risk of an arms race. The nuclear test has pushed South Korea and Japan ever closer into the US security orbit. Internationally, the fallout of the test will be felt as far as the Middle East, with indications that the regime has been assisting Iran with its own nuclear weapons program, under the auspices of a scientific and technological cooperation agreement signed in September opening the door to technology transfers. Indeed, the Washington Times reported that Iranian scientists may have been present at Punggye-ri this month to witness the test.
Technological leap According to North Korea’s official news agency, “the test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level, with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb, unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power.” Initial estimates from the South Korean defence ministry put the explosive yield at the equivalent of six to seven kilotons, according to analysis of seismic data. This is significantly higher than the two previous tests and, coupled with the assertion of miniaturization, could indicate a shift from the use of plutonium, such as in 2006 and 2009, to highly enriched uranium. If so, it implies a technological leap forward to a new and self-sustaining nuclear weapons program in Pyongyang. The regime unveiled uranium enrichment activity at its Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center— and experts suggest uranium may also be in production at other secret facilities in the hermit kingdom— in 2010 during a visit by foreign scientists. If the program has achieved efficiency of the weaponization stage, it would have dire implications for the international non-proliferation regime and global security. Uranium is perhaps the easiest and best fissile material with which to construct a dirty bomb, and the
equipment and techniques for enriching uranium are much easier to hide—as well as to transfer—than those for plutonium, owing to the use of centrifuge cascades rather than the need for an entire reactor. American officials believe that North Korea has only enough plutonium for between six and 10 bombs. The ability to enrich weapons-grade uranium, however, would give the Kim regime a substantially larger potential nuclear arsenal, to say nothing of the possibility of selling the equipment and technology to rogue states and non-state actors. In order to confirm these suspicions, both the United States and Japan have employed “sniffer” planes—aircraft equipped with specialized gear to collect radioactive gases in the atmosphere for forensic examination. Thus far, no Xenon isotopes were detected, as they were after the 2006 detonation. However, such traces are difficult to detect, and the absence of results so far are far from conclusive. Whatever the short-term implications of this latest nuclear test, one thing remains clear: Pyongyang has every intention of conducting further such controlled explosions and of continuing work on delivery systems, including further rocket launches—perhaps within months. The Kim regime informed Beijing as much after the third test. “It’s all ready,” an anonymous source with knowledge of the communication told the Reuters news agency. “A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year.” According to David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, North Korea is probably already capable of mounting a plutoniumbased warhead on its Nodong short-range missile, which can reach targets up to 800 miles distant. The tests referred to by the Pyongyang official will likely be used to demonstrate the North’s growing capabilities not only in miniaturization and weaponizing fissile material, but in developing delivery systems capable of hitting targets farther afield. n
photo: ROC MND A Hsiung Feng III missile on display at an aeronautics show in Taipei, with a background illustration of several such missiles assaulting an aircraft carrier.
Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 7 (February, 2013)
Prickly Situation Taiwan’s missile program spurs debate on pre-emptive, porcupine strategies Michal Thim he fundamentally transformed strategic environment in Asia has forced policy planners in Taipei, and domestic and foreign experts, to explore innovative defense options that reflect the growing asymmetry—both qualitative and quantitative—between Taiwan and China. The need to “go asymmetrical” is firmly reflected in the first Quadrennial Defense Review, released in 2009, and will likely be reiterated in its latest edition due to be published next month. In terms of arms procurement, Taiwan is significantly limited by three major constraints: (1) Taiwan is dependent on the United States as its only source of advanced weapons systems, because (2) no other country appears to be willing to upset Beijing by offering to sell weapons to Taiwan, and (3) Washington limits arms sales to defensive articles only. Perhaps the only remaining avenue of enhancing Taiwan’s portfolio of asymmetrical countermeasures are its indigenous weapon programs, the most successful of which is the missile program led by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST). Most recently, part of the CSIST missile portfolio was enlarged by surface-to-surface cruise missiles that can hit targets
Michal Thim is a PhD student at the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham and a research fellow at the Prague-based Association for International Affairs. Follow him on Twitter @michalthim.
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graphic: Political Geography Now
in China. Taiwan’s decision makers should not exclude the option of a pre-emptive strike unless they want to risk turning these systems into what defense strategists term “wasting assets”: obsolete methods of projecting power.
Counter-offensive debate The debate over developing Taiwan’s counter-offensive capabilities has been raging since the late 1990s, and despite the decrease in cross-strait tensions since 2008, efforts to acquire surface-to-surface missiles have not disappeared. Shortly after the 2008 polls, newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou ordered the production of 300 Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) 2E land-attack cruise missiles with a range of 600 kilometers (plans for the 800km version were reportedly scrapped). Although the United States appeared to be blocking sales of crucial parts for the HF-2E missiles,
it did not effectively stop production, as HF-2Es are being deployed to combat units. Development has not stopped with the Hsiung Feng missile family, however, and Taiwan’s nascent surface-to-surface missile force is set to receive a significant capability boost after 2014. The new Cloud Peak (Yunfeng) missile is reported to be able to hit targets as far as 1,200km, with a possible extended range of 2,000km. It was reported in Defense News that mass production of 50-60 missiles would start in 2014, with the first units deployed as early as 2015. Little is known about the technical details of the HF2E and Yunfeng missiles—unlike its anti-ship sisters the HF-2 and HF-3, the HF-2E has never been put on public display, but it is clear that Taiwan’s defense industry has made significant improvements in its ability to produce missiles domestically. Indeed, less than a month after China officially launched its first and only aircraft carrier the Liaoning
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CV 16, the Republic of China (ROC) military conducted a test of its longest-range anti-ship missile to date, an HF-3 variant dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer.” The missile can achieve a velocity of Mach 3 and reach its target from as far away as 400km. Examining the hypothetical scenario of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon stated confidently in a piece published in 2000 that “China could not take Taiwan, even if US combat forces did not intervene in a conflict. Nor will China be able to invade Taiwan for at least a decade, if not much longer.” Given Beijing’s unparalleled economic and military growth over the past decade, few would share that same optimism today. Yet the case for Taiwan’s defense is not lost, rather it requires exploring innovative options that would allow for a cost-effective and efficient defense. One of the avenues available for Taiwan is to turn China’s missile-centered, anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) doctrine to Beijing’s disadvantage. Taiwan should be able to develop sufficient A2AD capabilities that would transform the Taiwan Strait and adjacent waters into a dangerous zone either for invading forces or for an attempted blockade. Among the
most vocal proponents of a greater role for asymmetric measures (and A2AD is a truly asymmetric response for states that face a stronger naval power) in Taiwan’s defense plans are James R. Holmes and Toshi
“Proponents of the porcupine strategy oppose the purchase of excessively expensive platforms.”
Yoshihara of the US Naval War College, who advocate development of a fleet of stealth-capable, high-speed vessels armed with anti-ship cruise missiles. One of the prominent concepts being promoted by various scholars is the “porcupine strategy.” William S. Murray suggests that key components of equipping Taiwan to adopt such a strategy—so named for the animal’s defensive quills—lies in a whole range of passive defense measures: stockpiling supplies, hardening shelters, preparing for an army-based defense with short-range defensive weapons, and designedin redundancies in terms of communications and infrastructure. Proponents of the porcupine strategy
photo: Kyle D. Gahlau Aircraft from the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force exercise the Air-Sea Battle Concept—designed to address an enemy’s A2AD capabilities—as they fly by the John C. Stennis, Kitty Hawk, and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups during Valiant Shield 2007, the largest joint exercise in the Pacific that year.
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oppose the purchase of excessively expensive platforms such as the Patriot PAC-3 air/ballistic missile defense system, and even prolonged attempts to buy 66 F-16C/D fighter jets. These are sound proposals, but if implemented in its entirety, Taiwan would strip itself of the ability to conduct any effective operations on the sea and in the air. No proposal is without flaws, and most of them have their merits: the key issue for decision makers is to combine what is available with what is desirable. Taiwan’s ballistic-missile defense can be boosted by railguns that would provide a much more cost-effective, low-tier option, and shore-based missile defense can be supported by multiple rocket launcher systems. However, any actions taken to limit missile ranges to short distances in order to avoid having the capability to strike targets within Chinese territory would not serve the cause of Taiwan’s defense. It appears that the government agrees with this conclusion, as evidenced
by its push for HF-2E and Yunhong production. Andrew Krepinevich, a proponent of the Air-Sea Battle operational concept that seeks to overcome Chinese A2AD measures, argues that “the large air bases in the region that host the US Air Force’s shortrange strike aircraft and support aircraft are similarly under increased threat [of Chinese A2AD]. All thus
“Excluding the pre-emptive strike option means risking the aforementioned platforms becoming wasting assets by exposing them to an initial Chinese missile strike.”
risk becoming wasting assets.” There are several platforms in Taiwan’s arsenal that face the same dilemma: Big surface ships and fighter jets among the most prominent. Surface-to-surface cruise missiles could
photo: MND US-made Patriot Air-Defense missiles are among the arsenal of defensive weapons available to the ROC military to defend against missile attack from China.
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photo: Richy The large surface ships of the ROC Navy may be impressive and a source of national pride, but they risk becoming wasting assets in an initial missile strike.
become wasting assets too, due to potential doctrinal constraints. Naturally, it serves Taiwan politically to declare that Taiwan will not be the one that strikes first. The porcupine strategy follows that policy line well. Most of the suggestions are aimed at fencing off an incoming ballistic missile onslaught. However, excluding the pre-emptive strike option means risking the aforementioned platforms becoming wasting assets by exposing them to an initial Chinese missile strike—the move widely considered to be the most likely opening salvo in any military scenario.
A problematic option Actually engaging in a pre-emptive strike is, of course, a problematic option, as the initiator of such a move risks condemnation from the international community. The controversy surrounding Israel’s pre-emptive strike in the Six-Day War of 1967 is but one example. However, it seems prudent to assume that Taiwan’s decision makers would green-light a pre-emptive strike only in the presence of strong
evidence of the inevitability of a Chinese attack, and that this evidence would be communicated with the United States (Taiwan’s new Early Warning Radar station in Hsinchu would be instrumental in providing such evidence). Needless to say, a pre-emptive strike is under any circumstances an extremely risky proposition for Taiwan, yet simply giving up on any capability to hit military targets in China does not make Taiwan any safer. In any case, a counter-strike ability should have its place in Taiwan’s defense planning, even if pre-emptive options are off the table. Refraining from having such capabilities would only further exacerbate Taiwan’s disadvantages, effectively sending the message to Beijing that its military infrastructure would not be affected should it decide to take Taiwan by force. Although pre-emption is not often discussed publicly, it is not foreign to academic circles. In 2011, an article in the academic journal Issues & Studies discussed the option of pre-emptive strikes under five different scenarios. The evidence offered by author Heng-yu Lee suggests that it would always be in
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Taiwan’s interest to strike first when it becomes clear that conflict is inevitable.
Pandora’s box From the US perspective, Taiwan’s missile program is something of a Pandora’s box, allowing Taiwan to embark on a first strike before formally declaring independence is a scenario that is highly undesirable from Washington’s perspective. Yet the logic of such a move would be unclear: First, Taiwan would not be able to inflict enough damage on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to prevent an immediate retaliation. Second, any such action would legitimize the full range of subsequent Chinese military actions, including amphibious invasion. Third, Taiwan’s decision makers would risk losing US support, which is increasingly conditioned upon an unprovoked attack by China. Thus, it should be clear that a pre-emptive strike would be only the first in a whole range of lastresort options. Once the decision to develop and deploy cruise
missiles with a range of 800km-2,000km was taken, removing the option to launch a first strike in the presence of clear evidence of an imminent PLA attack would make those platforms vulnerable to incoming missiles, even if they are deployed on trucks and are thus mobile. Second, it is understandable that Taiwan’s government seeks to nurture its image of the party that would not attack first. It may very well keep on declaring that. The risk of losing face as a consequence of a pre-emptive strike is not negligible, but considering the alternative option, it is still acceptable. Third, Taipei is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Beijing, and it simply cannot afford to dismiss any chance to gain leverage. This does not exclude careful selection of potential targets. There are already several limitations that stem from the democratic nature of the Taipei regime that prevents Taiwan from fully maximizing its military options. Deliberately striking targets that would cause civilian casualties is simply unacceptable. However, striking military assets in China right before Beijing launches its own attack is perfectly legitimate. n
photo: Michele Travierso A missile sits on display at the Zhuhai Airshow 2012. Hundreds of missiles—a symbol of Beijing’s power—are aimed at Taiwan from across the strait.
Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 7 (February, 2013)
Meet the New Boss Prospects for political reform dim under fifth-generation leadership in China Edward Hsieh s 2012 drew to a close, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) saw a change in leadership for the first time in a decade, as the Hu-Wen administration was replaced with the Xi-Li administration at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP). The decision to appoint Xi Jinping as PRC president and Li Keqiang as premier proceeded smoothly, but myriad challenges—both internal and external—will confront the new administration as they take up their duties in the coming months. Internal problems include a slowdown in economic growth, an imbalance in industrial structure, social disparity between the rich and the poor, and judicial unfairness and corruption. External challenges involve the European debt crisis, a global recession, the US strategic rebalancing toward Asia, and the many disputes over sovereignty in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. These challenges will put enormous political pressure on the new PRC leaders, and the world is watching to see how they will address them. There is urgent pressure for political reform in the PRC, and Chinese leaders have paid lip service to its necessity and importance many times, but doubts remain as to whether the leadership has the intention and determination to undertake the type of reforms that will satisfy such calls. The most likely motivation for what reforms the PRC has experienced so far has
photo: Bert van Dijk Xi Jinping is the new paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China.
been economic in nature, and thus nothing that could threaten the legitimacy of the communist regime or the beginnings of democratization in China. If one examines the contents of reform, one sees no real changes in the political system or the power structure. Rather, policies enacted and actions taken have focused on means of improving political organization and management. The main actor behind these actions has been the PRC’s ruling class. “Administrative efficiency” has been the essence of reforms; “stability of development,” the process, and the notion of “top-down actions to strengthen the nation,” the pattern. All these features can be considered “political system reform,” but not “political reform.” Political system reform in the PRC began as an idea in 1978, at the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CCP Central Committee, when Deng Xiaoping de-
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hsieh is an instructor at National Defense University’s Army Command and Staff College. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.
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photo: Bert van Dijk The image of Deng Xioping still graces billboards in China. He is revered for his economic reforms, though he proved unwilling to embrace political reform.
livered a speech about the importance of such reform and ushered in the Reform and Opening Up policy. According to Deng, political system reform and economic system reform should be interdependent and cooperative. Indeed, Deng pointed out that economic system reform alone is insufficient, and political system reform is the key to all other kinds of reform. This notion died a quick death, however. In the 1980s, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang—both highranking CCP leaders—advocated radical reform ideas along the lines of what Deng described, such as market economic reforms, the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the separation of Party and state. As a consequence of their views, Hu and Zhao were officially censored by a suspicious CCP worried about appearing weak, and they lost their positions among the nation’s elite, with Zhao purged and placed under house arrest for the next 15 years. Their cases serve as an object lesson on the power of anti-reform forces in China. From 1998 to 2003, PRC Premier Zhu Rongji attempted to implement changes, but the task proved
too difficult, and the process of political reform was suspended. During this period, China experienced a series of problems, such as corruption, the uneven distribution of wealth, and rampant social conflict. It was not until the period from 2010 to 2012, by which time such problems had become very serious and risked triggering large-scale social turmoil that could endanger the very foundations of the communist regime, that PRC Premier Wen Jiabao began to speak openly about the necessity and importance of political reform.
Media attention On February 23, 2012, an editorial was printed in the state-run newspaper The People’s Daily titled “Imperfect Reform Is Preferable to A Crisis-Prone Status Quo.” The author argued that while reforms are inherently risky, a refusal to implement reforms could be dangerous to the Communist Party. While vested interest groups use their positions of privilege and power to block reform, even imperfect reforms
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are better than the crisis that would be created by no reforms forthcoming, but when the voices of dissent fall silent, reforms stop. It was the first time in three decades that the state media addressed the topic of systemic reform in China, and the intention was to ignite debate on the issue and persuade the nation’s powerful and vested interests to accept—or at least to not oppose—reform. It appears as though the new social situation, largely ushered in by the success of economic reforms, had begun to exert pressure on the political system, and hence the exhumation of Deng’s concepts of political system reform, and Wen beginning to address the issue. The phenomenon is one that is best examined through the lenses of policy, institutions, and reality. On policy: The overriding fixation on “stability overrides everything,” and policies that are slave to that mindset, can sacrifice any chances for reform. The 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre is evidence of this in action, as Deng acted to preserve the stabil-
ity of CCP rule and took extreme measures to reach this goal. Some worry that the new leadership of the PRC will continue to sacrifice reform on the altar of stability, although these factors could be cured by fair means or foul.
“Political reform will continue to be impossible unless pressure from the general public, as well as from the international community, is strong enough.” On institutions: Deng’s Four Cardinal Principles— those of upholding the socialist path; the people’s democratic dictatorship; the leadership of the CCP; and Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought—limit the range of reform. The crisis of socialism is an institutional one with a political, economic, and ideological foundation, and the primacy of these principles constrain the possibilities for political reform of any
photo: Thierry Ehrmann A graffiti portrait of former CCP member Hu Yaobang on a wall in France. Hu and his contemporary, Zhao Ziyang, were purged for their reform efforts.
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meaningful range and scale. In practical terms, PRC leaders insist not only that the Communist Party remain the only political party in China, but that the institutional one-party dictatorship continue. On reality: Pressure exerted by vested interests affect the power (or lack thereof) of reform movements. Vested interest groups constitute the primary problem for political reform in the PRC. The current political system allows them to control policy and gives them oversight of the distribution of social resources, and thus the elite enjoy a great amount of social wealth as well as social security. Due to their unique position, they have the power to destroy in its infancy any reform that could damage their interests. Therefore, political reform will continue to be impossible unless pressure from the general public, as well as from the international community, is strong enough to force them to rethink giving up some of their interests to better serve the future, big-picture considerations as to what is best for the country.
Pessimists will surely continue to believe that the one-party dictatorship is impervious to change and that actual political reform in the PRC is impossible. Optimists, on the other hand, are eager to find an avenue to political reform and make it possible. If such an avenue really exists, where can it be found? Internal statements from within the PRC power structure can be divided into two broad types of contentions: one is to try to find a starting point from political theory, while the other focuses on political institutions.
Natural rights A desire for freedom of speech is a popular consensus in China, especially among artists and intellectuals, and voices continue to call for reform, as well as for an end to corruption and implementation of the rule of law. Demands for freedom of speech protections can be expected to face resistance from officialdom, however, and at least in the short term, the media
photo: Longtrekhome Religious activists hold a candlelight vigil for victims of torture in China. There are increasing calls for the government to respect civil and human rights.
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will continue to confine itself to the politically correct view. There is also the issue of “internal democracy” within the Communist Party, which many see as the most feasible avenue forward. The state controls all the organizations and institutions in the PRC, and the party controls the state, so if some semblance of democracy can be adopted internally within the Party, this could represent a form of opening to reform. Still, many are opposed to the party’s “democratic centralism,” and therefore just how the Party might go about adopting such a reform is difficult to imagine. The process of democratization must be taken step by step. The PRC political system is in a period of transformation from strong authority to weak, and PRC reform has four goals, namely the separation of Party and state, decentralization of authority, reducing the bureaucracy, and enhancing efficiency. In actuality, only the first two goals involve political reform, while the others are merely administrative. Without the first two, then, the others will not be achieved.
What is often labeled “reform” in the PRC is very different from what Western observers imagine when they hear that term. Under the one-party dictatorship, the term is often used to refer to internal Party administrative and political changes: the CCP’s intention is to enhance the mechanism of responsibility between the Party and the government, to promote Party discipline, and fulfill Party supervision. There is no intention of implementing inter-party competition or establishing checks and balances on governing authority.
“Taiwan has made great strides in emerging from a one-party dictatorship to adopt a vibrant, functioning democracy.” This is why the experience of the Republic of China (ROC) is so valuable insofar as its democratic achievements can serve to influence the path of true reform in China. Advocates of limited, inter-party reform or a continuation of one-party rule are skeptical of democratization, which they see as a uniquely Western concept. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait share a similar culture, however, giving the lie to the notion that Chinese culture is not suited to democracy. Taiwan has made great strides in emerging from a one-party dictatorship to adopt a vibrant, functioning democracy with freedom of speech, judicial independence, democratic elections, and party competition. There is no reason the people of China cannot accomplish the same. As such, the ROC’s democratic experience can serve as a model for the PRC and be used to resolve anticipated problems such as the fairness of the electoral system, the peaceful handover of power from party to party, respect for human rights, and other essential elements for a democracy that the Chinese system lacks. n
Reform not revolution There are several things about political reform in the PRC that have to be understood correctly. First, reform is not revolution; both are totally different in consequence, but one cannot exclude the possibility that what begins as reform can eventually turn into revolution. Second, Deng’s conception of political reform has its value historically, but it is out of date given the situation in China today. Third, the PRC government will never try to conduct political reform, but rather administrative reform, in order to secure continued governance by the Party. Fourth, PRC political reform “with Chinese characteristics” is not the same as modern, Western political reform, with its advocacy of rule of law, human rights, and checks and balances.
Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 7 (February, 2013)
Stuck in the Middle Taiwan’s capacity for middle power diplomacy complicated by islands dispute Julian Rothkopf iddle power diplomacy is a concept in the international-relations literature that applies to states that, due to either their material and financial capabilities or their political culture and leadership, contribute actively to conflict resolution, peacekeeping, or official development assistance. It is often described as acting as a “good citizen” of the international community: more involved than smaller states in international affairs, but also more compromising and multilateral in focus than the great powers. Amidst the US re-balancing to Asia and the dynamic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the foreign policy of Taiwan resembles that of an aspiring middle power, albeit with one crucial exception: the South China Sea. The idea of middle power diplomacy has recently received academic attention in the context of the stillunfolding US pivot to Asia. Smaller regional powers in Northeast Asia intend to wield their influence on the intensifying Sino-US relationship in order to maintain prosperity and stability in the region. The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, like most small states, is significantly influenced by the actions of larger states and thus reliant on multilateral cooperation to ensure its own security. Moreover, Taiwan
photo: ROC CGA The ROC flag flies on a Coast Guard ship protecting a flotilla of Taiwanese fishing boats heading to the Diaoyutai Islands to protest in support of ROC claims.
Julian Rothkopf is a research assistant at the Center for Security Studies at National Chengchi University, Taipei. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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photo: Pierre Thériault Sergeant Bob Hervieux tends to an injured woman during humanitarian operations in Haiti. Such efforts bolster Canada’s profile as a middle power.
continues to find itself in an historically complicated and often tense geopolitical position where larger states’ spheres of influence overlap, specifically those of China and the United States. Countries like South Korea and Japan, which are similarly situated along the same geopolitical fault line, seek to minimize the risks of great-power confrontation through the use of middle power diplomacy.
Different models As international scholars in the field recently pointed out at the Trilateral Dialogue 2012 conference held in Taipei, the concept of middle power diplomacy has yet to be fully defined and operationalized. Many different models proposed in the literature lead to different definitions. In addition, it must be discussed further whether the ROC has the potential to play the role of responsible middle power, or is already in the midst of doing so. When discussing middle power diplomacy, coun-
tries like Norway, Canada, Australia and others frequently receive mention for their exemplary leadership in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. Some scholars herald the rise of smaller nations in various multilateral fora as a sign of the diminishing political predominance of existing great powers. Their leaders have, on occasion, emphasized their countries’ functional role as contributing to a normative world order. Middle powers have become increasingly relevant since the Cold War when, despite their otherwise limited options, they were able to facilitate significant diplomatic advances between the two superpowerdominated blocs. The history of the term “middle power” also suggests that countries like Canada and Australia sought to attain wider recognition for their material contributions to international security—especially during World War II—thus raising their own profile in the international community. If such “middlepowermanship” is simply a euphemism for an otherwise competitive race among smaller states to increase their
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photo: ROC CGA A ship from the Japanese Coast Guard sprays down a Taiwanese fishing vessel during an encounter in the waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyutai Islands.
profile, however, then the positive effects on great power diplomacy are doubtful. It is also questionable whether middle powers can always play a truly independent role and will not ultimately be tempted to side with one great power or another. Hence, it might be more meaningful to identify middle powers by their effects on mediation and diplomacy (the normative model) and their leadership’s attitudes (the behavioral model) rather than quantifying their financial or material capabilities (the hierarchical model). This approach also avoids the complicated search for highly relative hierarchies among countries, and instead examines the real outcomes of their diplomacy. Whether the ROC is a middle power in the normative or behavioral sense would mean that the country displays a behavior distinctly different from small and great powers and intends to genuinely solve disputes through its own independent efforts at mediation or through established institutions. Two caveats apply. First, even today, the ROC remains excluded from membership in major international organizations, which reduces the likelihood of it being able to act as a middle power through established institutions.
Second, in the East China Sea dispute, there appear to be only middle and great powers involved, with no small states staking claims (unlike the disputes in the South China Sea). Overall, both disputes paint a starkly different picture of Taiwan’s middle power ambitions.
Clarification needed In the East China Sea dispute, clarification is needed as to whether the ROC represents a middle power in the normative sense compared to the other claimants, Japan and China. This means that the country is actively involved in regional conflict resolution (most prominently through diplomatic initiatives and foreign aid) and is not subservient to the will of a great power. The rapprochement with China seen in recent years—an effort of the Kuomintang (KMT) government—has already led some commentators to speculate over a perceived accommodation to Beijing’s foreign policy. At the official level, however, rapprochement has so far been limited to trade and economic engagement, and administration officials adamantly deny
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any coordination with Beijing on foreign-policy issues. The ROC government is still pursuing a balancing strategy in its relations with the PRC by relying on the historical relationship with the United States. In turn, the ROC has maintained its claims in both the East and South China seas—claims that diverge from the official position of its US ally. As to the ROC-Japan relationship, it is nowhere near as strained as that between Japan and China. Taiwan can lay claim to being the largest contributor to the post-Fukushima relief effort, albeit through the private generosity of the Taiwanese people due to official action being barred by Beijing. This highlights the country’s consistent support of humanitarian efforts and its ongoing desire to engage in joint cooperation in disaster management and rescue operations in the region. At the same time, the two governments are clearly at odds over the administration of the Diaoyutai Islands (Senkaku in Japanese), with Taipei seeking negotiations over fishing rights vis-à-vis Tokyo. This, in sum, reflects the relative independence of Taipei’s foreign policy-related decision-making. The administration of ROC President Ma Ying-jeou
has unveiled an East China Sea peace initiative that includes a call for, among other things, shelving disputes, abiding by international law, and developing
“The ROC is directly involved in island disputes in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea only due to its own territorial claims there.” a code of conduct. Ma’s decades-long interest in the Diaoyutais and this current initiative reflect the ROC leadership’s active diplomatic engagement over the issue, and supports the interpretation of Yoshihide Seoya that middle powers constitute the main supporters of transnational institution-building. Seoya, a professor at Keio University’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, points out that significant leadership on an issue and the readiness to accept compromises is an important element of middle power behavior. It must be acknowledged that the ROC is directly involved in island disputes in both the East China
photo: Hajime Nakano Damage wrought by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that hit in 2011. Taiwanese citizens and NGOs provided more relief aid than any other country.
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photo: Jennifer A. Villalovos American and Malaysian ships take part in an exercise in the South China Sea, an area of conflicting claims and counterclaims, including those by the ROC.
Sea and the South China Sea only due to its own territorial claims there. This diverges from the example of the Canadian mediation in the 1956 Suez Crisis. Such is likewise the case for middle power Japan in the East China Sea. Nevertheless, the ROC call to shelf the dispute and seek a code of conduct is one of the most multilateral- and mutual benefit-minded approaches of any actor in the region, as it ostensibly comes at the country’s own expense.
South China Sea The picture is different in the South China Sea, however. Here, the ROC government has not launched any significant forays toward conflict resolution and is criticized by some commentators for basing its claims on the “U-shaped line,” which is strikingly similar— and indeed, historically related to—the PRC’s “ninedotted line.” While China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2002, the ROC remains shut out of multilateral efforts due to China’s diplomatic blockade, and thus
it has no access to these diplomatic instruments, hence Taipei does not seem to be deeply committed to them. Given its greatly constrained diplomatic position, the ROC runs the risk of alienating its southern neighbors, some of which are aspiring middle powers themselves. If the ROC government wants to continue to underpin its image as an actor with advantages and experience in soft power and with the ability to function as a genuine, normative middle power, it needs to realize that it is currently sending two starkly different signals to the international community: one of a compromising middle power in the East China Sea, and one that is very similar to the PRC position. This latter signal is predicated on an anachronistic interpretation of the ROC Constitution that still sees the ROC government as representing the Chinese mainland as well. As is the case in the East China Sea, the government would not need to concede territorial claims simply because it puts forth good will and multilateral thinking. Moreover, Taipei would be well advised to seek more dialogue with the countries of ASEAN in order to avoid further diplomatic isolation. n
STRATEGIC VISION for Taiwan Security
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