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STRATEGIC VISION Volume 2, Issue 11


October, 2013

for Taiwan Security w

ISSN 2227-3646


An Asian Nation? Focus on the US Asian Pivot and Taiwan’s response

Seeking a Security Role Fu-Kuo Liu Eyes on the TPP Carlos Hsieh

US-Taiwan Ties Jens Kastner Expanding International Space Edward Hsieh Making Taiwan a Pivotal Player Michal Thim


Volume 2, Issue 11

for Taiwan Security w

October, 2013

Contents Taiwan seeking active role in regional security layout...................4

Fu-Kuo Liu

TPP an alternative to overreliance on China................................10

Carlos Hsieh

Obama’s newfound friendliness to Taiwan................................... 14

Jens Kastner

Expanding Taipei’s international space via the pivot................... 19

Edward Hsieh

Better messaging in US, stronger defense needed........................ 25

Michal Thim

Submissions: Essays submitted for publication are not to exceed 2,000 words in length, and should conform to the following basic format for each 1200-1600 word essay: 1. Synopsis, 100-200 words; 2. Background description, 100-200 words; 3. Analysis, 800-1,000 words; 4. Policy Recommendations, 200-300 words. Book reviews should not exceed 1,200 words in length. Notes should be formatted as endnotes and should be kept to a minimum. Authors are encouraged to submit essays and reviews as attachments to emails; Microsoft Word documents are preferred. For questions of style and usage, writers should consult the Chicago Manual of Style. Authors of unsolicited manuscripts are encouraged to consult with the executive editor at before formal submission via email. Manuscripts are subject to copyediting, both mechanical and substantive, as required and according to editorial guidelines. No major alterations may be made by an author once the type has been set. Arrangements for reprints should be made with the editor. Cover photograph of Operations Specialist 2nd Class Dung Pham saying goodbye to a loved one before boarding the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy for Pacific Partnership 2008 is courtesy of Cale Bentley.

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 11, October, 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: issues and archives can be viewed at our website: © 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


s the effects of the American policy of rebalancing to Asia are slowly making themselves felt, it seemed an opportune time to examine that policy and how it is expected to impact the region, as well as to look at the challenges and opportunities that it poses for Taiwan. We have collected a series of articles encapsulating a diversity of viewpoints on how Taiwan should best respond to the three pillars of the US pivot: economic, military and diplomatic. I begin with an examination of the opportunities for Taipei to leverage its competencies to contribute to the evolving regional security architecture, as well as playing a mediator role as the United States and China forge a new big-power relationship. Dr. Carlos Hsieh of Fu Hsing Kang College looks at the economic aspect of the pivot, and how the Trans-Pacific Partnership offers Taiwan a means of reducing its economic reliance on China, and how offering to assist Washington with military matters might name them more amenable to TPP membership. Jens Kastner looks at the Obama administration’s track record regarding Taiwan policy and the shift in tone that accompanied the announcement of the rebalancing policy, arguing that US financial conditions necessitated a re-evaluation of Taiwan’s importance to American aspirations for the region. Dr. Edward Hsieh offers his views on the pivot’s diplomatic perspective and how it presents opportunities for Taiwan to have a bigger voice in the region and the world, and to remain an influential player in the trilateral relationship. Finally, Michal Thim of the University of Nottingham analyses Taipei’s place in America’s rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific and just what the United States needs from Taiwan to make the policy a success story. We hope you find this issue informative and enjoyable, and that it stimulates thought and discussion about this very important event that promises to redraw the region. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

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Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 11 (October, 2013)

Mapping the Future Taiwan charting an active role in regional security layout as US boosts presence Fu-Kuo Liu

photo: Chad McNeeley Admiral Mike Mullen is shown a map of the Korean DMZ. Despite China’s growing economic role in Asia, America remains the region’s security guarantor.


aiwan’s general perception of the US pivot to Asia reflects concerns with USChina strategic competition. On all aspects of the policy (economic, diplomatic and military), the US is garnering new momentum to strengthen alliances and re-establish partnerships to recover leadership of the region. The strategy is directed at regaining the United States’ superior position in the region by pushing back against Chinese dominance. For so long, Taiwan has relied on its security relationship with the United States to withstand the military threat from China. While China today has

become a strong power, and the pace of its military development is growing much faster than expected, Taiwan will not soon be able to compete with China on military hard power. Instead, over the last few years, Taiwan has concentrated more on developing asymmetric military capabilities and wielding soft power as a way to deter and discourage Chinese hostility against Taiwan. The real motivation that the United States has to return to Asia is to rebalance China’s gaining the upper hand in the region. For many regional countries, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has already

Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu is head of National Chengchi University’s Center for Security Studies and the editor of Strategic Vision. He can be reached for comment at

Mapping Taiwan’s Future  b  5

become the No. 1 trading partner, while at the same time, the United States remains the region’s security guarantor. Taiwan shares the perception with others in the region that US-China strategic competition will definitely affect regional security and prosperity. While continuously working toward a better relationship with the United States, Taiwan intends to continue to deepen relations with China so that security and prosperity can be sustained. Washington has carefully identified that recent progress in cross-strait relations is helpful to regional security. By confirming its interest in the Taiwan Strait, the United States has re-emphasized its “one China policy” framework as a foundation of the pivot. It also hopes that, on the security front, there will be a way for Taipei to facilitate closer cooperation with Washington in order to strengthen its capabilities and confidence. In general, Taiwan’s perception of the pivot is very much based on the account of US-China strategic competition and its possible impact on the progress of relations across the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, while

positive progress continues, Taiwan is carefully looking into what the pivot implies for the region, and how to take advantage of the new effort to facilitate closer relations with the United States. As regional

“Taiwan intends to restructure its forces to become leaner, smaller, smarter, and stronger to engage in the warfare of the future.”

countries have faced a stage of US-China competition, most of them have plunged into the strategic dilemma of choosing sides, and the policy community in Taiwan is oftentimes wondering what the US comfort level with cross-strait progress would be. Taiwan has become a “non-recognized” US ally since severance of diplomatic recognition in 1979. Because military cooperation between the United States and Taiwan goes much deeper than what is

photo: VOA Representatives from the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits shake hands during negotiations.


generally revealed, Taiwan’s response to the pivot is pretty much along the lines of US military planning. As Taiwan is currently going through the process of military reform to transform from a conscription to a voluntary system, and facing financial constraints similar to the pressure imposed on the United States by the sequester reductions, Taiwan intends to restructure its forces to become leaner, smaller, smarter, and stronger to engage in the warfare of the future. Driving the new momentum of military reforms and diplomacy, Taiwan is looking into fully engaging in the process of regional security cooperation. The momentum of the US pivot will of course influence Taiwan’s force restructuring planning and its changing defense posture. The United States has invested in platforms and capabilities that could be applied in the region. By building on these, the United States is boosting its presence but also helping to link up with regional partners. Through building the capability of the long-range early warning radar system, Taipei and Washington

are intensifying their cooperation on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, which would help build regional joint defense linkages. A typical example was the monitoring of the North Korean missile test late last year from Taiwan’s radar system in Loshan, Hsinchu County—detecting the launch of the Unha-3 rocket a few minutes earlier than Japan—showing cooperation at the operational level between Taiwan and the United States.

Shared responsibilities Now, restrained by its sequester, the United States may not for much longer be able to deliver as powerful a presence as it has now in the region. Therefore, it is likely that the United States will need its allies and partners in the region to share responsibilities. In responding to the pivot, regional security challenges, and new cross-strait realities, Taiwan is pressed to re-examine its defense strategy in consideration of playing an active role in the regional security layout.

photo: Michael Gomez An MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter lands aboard the USS Denver while conducting humanitarian operations in Taiwan in the wake of Typhoon Morakot.

Mapping Taiwan’s Future  b  7

photo: ROC Coast Guard A Taiwanese fishing trawler in the disputed waters of the East China Sea. After 17 years of negotiations, Taiwan and Japan recently inked a fisheries pact.

The foundation of the pivot is to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region so that the United States will be able to take advantage of the status quo in the region. As such, it would not be in US interests to have to deal with two allies fighting against each other, which would destroy any chance of successfully implementing the pivot. On April 10, Taiwan and Japan broke through a political barrier and signed a fisheries agreement regulating fishing activities and delineating fishing zones surrounding the hotly contested Diaoyutai Islands and some parts of the East China Sea—an agreement that has been under negotiation for more than 17 years without any appreciable progress. Although observers in the region have commented that Japanese Prime Minister Abe made the favorable final decision to give the green light to signing the agreement based on Japan’s strategic interests, it has been speculated that Washington was operating behind the scenes, pushing Tokyo to make the concession to Taipei in order to secure a peaceful environment between the two “allies.” More critically, it can be interpreted as the United States and Japan jointly

taking a pre-emptive step to discourage Taipei from leaning toward possible cross-strait cooperation. Although there has been no direct, public reference made as to whether Taiwan is also implied in the pivot, it is quite understandable that Taiwan would be regarded by the United States as a regional partner in the policy. On the regional strategic landscape, Taiwan may be transforming itself from a loose partner to a more coordinated one. For political reasons,

“As long as Taiwan maintains its current course of cross-strait peace, it is obviously very much in the US interest.”

it is almost unlikely that the United States would advocate Taiwan’s role in the pivot. Instead, Taiwan would be informally encouraged to take a more active strategic role to match up with the progress of the pivot. In a hearing held at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 4, 2011, former US


Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell testified that “a critical part of that overarching (pivot) strategy is building a comprehensive, durable, and unofficial relationship between the United States and Taiwan.” Although there has not been further elaboration on how the United States defines the terms of the bilateral relationship with Taiwan in the pivot, its profound implication is widely recognized.

Framing the relationship However, it has to frame the bilateral relationship under the one China policy framework and the Taiwan Relations Act. As long as Taiwan maintains its current course of cross-strait peace, it is obviously very much in the US interest. Its efforts facilitating peace would be considered in line with the rationale of the pivot. On the military aspect of the pivot, Taiwan’s defense establishment will likely take the US pivot into ac-

count in planning matters as it addresses the defense buildup in the next few years to further strengthen the levels of air force and naval capabilities. Today, territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East

“With longstanding claims for sovereignty over the disputed islands, Taiwan happens to be at the center of the two maritime territorial disputes.”

China Sea have become destabilizing factors in the regional security context. They have also become the largest challenge to the pivot, as recent incidents have demonstrated that strategic competition between American allies (Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, Taiwan and Japan in the East China Sea) becomes noticeable. Maintaining peace in the region is in the best in-

photo: Robert Dea US President Dwight D. Eisenhower rides with Chiang Kai-shek while on a visit to Taiwan in 1960. Prior to 1979, The ROC was a major official US ally in Asia.

Mapping Taiwan’s Future  b  9

photo: Richter Frank-Jurgen Crowds gather at the Global China Business Meeting 2012. China has become an integral business and financial leader in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

terests of the United States. But, when national insistence over sovereignty issues contradict with the pivot among allies, it may become a hard issue for Washington to resolve. With longstanding claims for sovereignty over the disputed islands, Taiwan happens to be at the center of the two maritime territorial disputes. It is natural that Taiwan would take more effective actions to protect its national interests. How much and how relevant would Taiwan be in the pivot? It remains an open question for the United States.

A shifting strategy The US pivot strategy has great relevance for regional security and Taiwan’s national security strategy. Taiwan’s perception is of course very much based on the calculation of the impact of the pivot on crossstrait progress, as its respective bilateral relationships with China and the United States are critically important to Taiwan. With the pivot coming into place, Taiwan is gradually shifting its strategy more toward

the United States, in particular as regards security. But, it has become obvious that the momentum of the pivot draws in Taiwan’s strategic interest. As such, the most critical part is whether the pivot will serve the best interests of Taiwan, and whether US interests substantially overlap with Taiwan’s. Today, the United States is facing an unprecedented series of serious challenges, more than ever before. Its power is relatively weaker, while China’s is much stronger. Given the sequestration, among other factors; financial health will become the most critical challenging factor for the US pivot to be implemented in the region. Under new leadership, China is trying to shape a new big-power relationship with the United States, and is requesting more respect on equal terms. What the United States and China develop may have a profound impact on the cross-strait relationship and the US-Taiwan relationship, including the response to the pivot, which comes at the center of Taiwan’s national security. n

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Two Masters

TPP offers Taiwan alternative to risky overreliance on Chinese economy Carlos Hsieh


he “strategic pivot” by the United States is based on the recognition that the most important part of the political and economic history of the 21st century will likely be written in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also the most significant overall US foreign policy action related to China in recent years, and how these two big powers interact with each other will deeply affect Taiwan’s status and future development. In the economic sphere, Taiwan’s foreign trade depends heavily on China, especially since the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) took effect in September 2010. According to statistics from the Mainland Affairs Council, China has become Taiwan’s largest export destination and second-largest import source. While China indeed accounts for more than 21 percent of Taiwan’s foreign trade, that number jumps to 40 percent when Hong Kong is factored in. Moreover, nearly 80 percent of Taiwan’s foreign direct investment goes to China. Joshua Meltzer of the Brookings Institution points out that Taiwan’s high level of economic and business integration over the past decade has inserted China into the supply chains of Taiwanese companies. While globalization and the integration of economic

economic roadmap, it would be wise to welcome the economic aspect of the US pivot to the Asia Pacific— especially the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—as a way to avoid exacerbating the heavy dependence on China in foreign trade and economic affairs. The Asia-Pacific trade agreement reflects US economic priorities and values, many of which are shared by Taiwan. Through the TPP, the administration of US President Barack Obama is seeking to boost economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality jobs by increasing exports in a region that includes some of the world’s most robust economies, and that represents more than 40 percent of global trade. The huge markets of the Asia-Pacific are already key destinations of US manufactured goods, agricultural products, and service suppliers, and the TPP countries are America’s third-largest export market for goods, and fourth largest service export market.

activities are the norm today, experts such as Michael Danielsen have expressed concern and have warned Taipei to be more prudent about overreliance on China. As Taiwan cautiously deliberates its future

ceived China threat. In his 2013 book titled “The Great Rebalancing: Trade, Conflict, and the Perilous Road Ahead for the World Economy,” noted economist and China expert Michael Pettis argues that

Perceived containment According to the Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency, Obama’s Asia pivot is an obvious attempt to contain China and to counterbalance the per-

Dr. Carlos Hsieh is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the ROC National Defense University’s Fu Hsing Kang College. He can be reached for comment at

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photo: US State Department US Secretary of State John Kerry prepares for a meeting about the Trans-Pacific Partnership held on the periphery of the 2013 APEC meetings in Indonesia.

China’s economic growth is, in fact, sputtering, just as the euro is under threat, and the United States is combating its own trade disadvantages. With its economic initiatives, the United States is endeavoring to forge an ambitious new trade arrangement for the region via the TPP, which is aimed at creating a tariff-eliminating free trade zone through a network of expansive trade agreements with suitable Pacific Rim economies. Started in 2006 as a free trade pact between Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, the TPP has expanded to include negotiations with Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam. Thus, the pivot is not just a new military strategy: It is complemented by a more active American economic and political engagement with Asia. Brad

then economic, and only finally military. Already Taiwan has shown that it is capable of embracing this logic, using economic deals and otherwise trying to leverage the considerable economic power that it wields in the world to create some diplomatic elbow room for itself in the face of Chinese obstruction. This also means that Taiwan could take military steps to reap economic benefits, following the logic of using security to enable continued prosperity.

Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS—a nonprofit foreign-policy research institute— has pointed out that the United States is focusing on expanding its “toolbox” of power-projection strategies beyond simply using its “military hammer.” Indeed, Washington has repeatedly characterized the rebalancing strategy as one that is first diplomatic,

The Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan is one of America’s oldest security partners. Although Taiwan’s potential role in the US pivot to Asia has been largely disregarded in public pronouncements, the island nation is exclusively poised to be a vital partner in the security component of that effort. In the area of security, Taiwan and the United States

“Taiwan and the United States have a longstanding, albeit underemphasized, security partnership.”


have a longstanding, albeit underemphasized, security partnership that could play a significant role in this effort. Because of its proximity to and knowledge of China, Taiwan is uniquely equipped to assist the United States with its efforts to expand the US presence and access in the region. For example, Taipei could ensure that (under certain emergency conditions and given certain caveats) US forces can utilize facilities on the island in the event of a conflict. Michael Mazza, program manager for the American Enterprise Institute’s Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy, opined that if the military pillar of the Asia pivot is meant to deter Chinese military adventurism, then doubtless Taiwan has an important role to play. For one thing, Taiwan can take measures to make sure that US forces would have access to the island’s facilities in times of crisis, even in the absence of a formal access agreement with United States. Moreover, due to its crucial location along the first island chain, the island of Formosa is of great geostrategic importance in keeping Chinese maritime and air forces from exerting outright control over much of the Pacific and pushing the US Navy back to the second island chain. Given that location, if Taiwan were to fall into unfriendly hands, America would find it increasingly difficult to defend its Asian allies, most notably Japan and the Philippines.

dependence on foreign trade with the China market and its vulnerability to potential economic coercion. In order to accomplish this, however, Taipei must take concrete steps to signal a willingness to play a part on the international economic stage. One of these would be a broader and more balanced spectrum of trade partners.

Bipartisan interest Former US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell—who is an architect of the US rebalancing strategy—spoke in Taipei October 15, 2013, at the Taiwan-US-Japan Trilateral Security Dialogue forum. He warned leaders, as well as potential future leaders in Taipei, that regardless of what party is in power, it is in Taiwan’s interest to cultivate a deeper economic relationship with other countries in Asia besides just China. One of the central foreign policy initiatives of the Obama administration, the pivot to Asia indicates a

Leveraging strengths In the military pillar of the US Asia pivot, Taiwan is in a position to at least be able to help the Pentagon fulfill the rebalancing strategy and contribute to US efforts to expand its presence and access in Asia. Taipei should leverage these advantages in order to secure support from the United States to accelerate Taiwan’s participation in the TPP, as well as to sign free trade agreements with other Asia-Pacific nations. These instruments would help to shore up Taiwan’s

photo: Roger Wollstadt The entrance to Shu Lin Kou Air Station, near Taipei, in 1967; one of the many US military bases once hosted by Taiwan.

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photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais President Obama, left, shakes hands with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva. There is ample room for Taipei to take a more active role in the US pivot.

strategic rebalancing of US interests from Europe and the Middle East toward Asia. There are five measures that the United States is taking to pursue its pivot goals: strengthening alliances, deepening partner-

“This inclination to gear the economy so exclusively to China should not be the only option for Taiwan.”

ships with emerging powers, building a stable, productive and constructive relationship with China, empowering regional institutions, and helping to build a regional economic architecture. The most important economic instrument to rebalance the Asia Pacific is undoubtedly the TPP, the membership of which the United States is making great efforts to broaden. Negotiations for the US-led TPP have grown to include 12 nations. Within the economic framework of the TPP, the United States

can form closer ties with Asian countries and maintain its economic interests, while reducing the influence of China and safeguarding its crucial role in the Asia-Pacific region. Taiwan stands at a crossroads for future development. China is indeed a huge market, and Taiwan obviously benefits from the enormous trade volume between the two countries. Nevertheless, this inclination to gear the economy so exclusively to China should not be the only option for Taiwan. Rather, Taipei must take advantage of its geostrategic position by contributing to the US military pillar of the rebalancing strategy. It should leverage its strengths in regards to the military pillar in order to ensure support from Washington for Taiwan’s rapid participation in the TPP, as well as for signing free trade agreements with other Asian nations. Thus can Taiwan rid itself of the specter of Chinese economic control and ensure that Taipei can negotiate with Beijing from a position of equals. n

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A Friend In Need US fiscal pressures prompt Obama’s newfound friendliness to Taiwan Jens Kastner


n a recent piece for The National Interest, John Copper, a Taiwan expert and professor of international studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, observed how Taiwan’s role had been evolving in the context of the US pivot (or to use the more recent formulation, rebalancing) to Asia. Titled Obama Turns Toward Taiwan, the article reminds readers that during his first presidential election campaign, Barack Obama consistently failed to reaffirm America’s obligation to defend Taiwan, and that soon after his election, his administration offered to host talks between the militaries of China and

Taiwan, despite the decades-old US promise never to pressure Taiwan into negotiations with China.

China-friendly advisors Copper pointed out that Obama had appointed China-friendly advisers who were hostile to Taiwan, emphasizing that, on his first state visit to China, the American president concurred with his hosts that Taiwan was one of China’s “core interests.” Moreover, in Copper’s eyes, what followed spoke volumes: Former Vice Chairman of the Joint

photo: Pete Souza President Barack Obama is reflected in a window while touring the Forbidden City in Beijing on his first presidential trip to China in November 2009.

Jens Kastner is a Taipei-based journalist whose work has appeared in the Economist Intelligence Unit, Asia Sentinel, and Taiwan Review. He can be reached for comment at

A Crucial Ally  b  15

Chiefs of Staff Admiral Bill Owens characterized the Taiwan Relations Act as “outdated” in the pages of the Financial Times, suggesting that Washington rethink its entire approach to dealing with China. It is perhaps not surprising that, after this performance, a great many opinion pieces began to appear in America’s newspapers penned by influential US academics and former US officials ideologically close to the Obama Administration, arguing that Taiwan was the only real obstacle to better relations with China, and that perhaps the time had come to sacrifice the island in the hopes of getting into Beijing’s good books. This came to be known as the “abandon Taiwan” trend, and it proved to be short-lived, coming to a relatively sudden end when reaction turned negative to the notion of America sacrificing a democratic, decades-long ally in favor of an authoritarian state known for its human rights abuses. In 2012 at the latest, the Obama Administration realized that it did not have the budgetary wherewithal to maintain current levels of US defense spending, let alone pay for the pivot, Copper argued. The answer was to allow USfriendly countries located around China to shoulder more of the burden of keeping the Middle Kingdom in check, and thus Taiwan once again began to be seen as a valuable asset.

Pacific Partnership Agreement, and publicly praised the way the Republic of China (ROC) government under President Ma Ying-jeou handled the East China Sea crisis. There was also a conspicuous uptick in Taiwan trips by US officials, while a warm reception was given to Ma by high-ranking US politicians during his transit stopover in the United States. Finally on Copper’s list: When Obama met China’s new President Xi Jinping earlier this year, he affirmed that Washington would continue to sell weapons to Taipei.

“The US-Taiwan Business Council has characterized this complete hold on arms sales as a ‘freeze.’”

To support his argument, Copper pointed out several aspects of the improving US-Taiwan relationship initiated by the executive. These include Taiwan’s

If one looked at Copper’s piece alone, it might indeed seem as though the Obama Administration now assesses that Taiwan ought to have a firm place in the pivot, similar to the ones occupied by South Korea, India, the Philippines, Japan and Australia, among others. However, when discussions and interactions between the United States and the other pivot partners are examined, it becomes clear that there is an important difference between how the United States views them and how it views Taiwan. Whereas on the one side, there is an emphasis on military-related issues, where Taiwan is concerned, the focus is all about the economy and diplomacy, with any signs of closer ties between the US and ROC militaries being conspicuous by their absence.

timely inclusion in the US Visa Waiver Program (a privilege held by only 37 nations), Obama’s signing of legislation supporting Taiwan’s participation in the International Civil Aviation Organization, and backing for Taiwan to conclude bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs). The United States also encouraged Taiwan to aim for membership in the Trans-

September 2011 was the last time the Obama Administration sold arms to Taiwan; a US$5.85 billion upgrade program for Taiwan’s aging fleet of F-16A/B fighters. Since then, no new procurement initiative has been in the pipeline. The US-Taiwan Business Council, a go-between for the US defense industry and the Taiwan military, has characterized this com-

Improving US-Taiwan ties


photo: Dean Karalekas An unmanned aerial vehicle on display at the 2013 Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition held at the Taipei World Trade Center in August.

plete hold on arms sales as a “freeze.” On August 19, following talks between Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Chinese Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, director of the Foreign Affairs Office of China’s Ministry of National Defense, was reported as saying that China and the United States would form a task force to sort out how US arms sales to Taiwan could be ended, while in return, China would withdraw some military assets vis-à-vis Taiwan. Although the story was vehemently rejected by Taipei, and while there may not have even been such a deal, its announcement reflects a renewed confidence in China that the anti-Taiwan arms sales crowd within US decision-making circles is now such a large audience that it pays to address them with messages such as this. Bonnie Glaser, a US scholar seen by her Taiwanese counterparts as fully authorized to speak for the Obama Administration, stated August 27 that the United States would support cross-strait military confidence-building measures (CBMs), but that there is no policy of actively promoting them. She acknowl-

edged that Ma fears that such CBMs would justify a reduction in (or even an end to) US arms sales to Taiwan. This fear is certainly well-founded. On September 29, at the opening of the Taiwan-US Defense Industry Conference, an event held annually to address defense cooperation and the ROC

“There are many among the Taiwanese public who see the United States as ‘ripping off’ Taiwan on weapons sales.”

military’s procurement plans, senior US defense and diplomatic officials apparently failed to show up—for the second year in a row. It was not until after the US-Taiwan Business Council, as the organizer, made statements to the media concerning the no-show, and characterizing it as proof that US-Taiwan relations had become “fairly grim,” that US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy Daniel Chiu surprisingly emerged to deliver a speech.

A Crucial Ally  b  17

Perhaps the most concrete sign of the existence of a freeze, however, was the biennial Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition held in mid-August. Apparently assessing that the heyday of lucrative arms sales to Taiwan was over, US defense companies exhibited a decline in interest, with Northrop Grumman and Boeing not showing up at all. Of the four US defense contractors that bothered to set up booths, namely Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Raytheon, only the latter promoted a new product, it was reported in Defense News. One can argue that the Obama Administration cannot be blamed for scaling down US-Taiwan military ties because Taipei seems indifferent and does not wish to play a military role in the pivot. This notion is fuelled by the fact that the current administration in Taipei is not serious about further arms purchases. For years Ma has relentlessly, and at times passionately, asked the United States to sell Taiwan new F-16C/Ds, in addition to the F-16A/B upgrade, causing many members of the US Congress to expend considerable political capital in support. But then, last year, Ma stopped asking, and ROC government officials began saying that the new F-16C/Ds were not good enough, and that they wanted to buy the new F-35 model instead—a request so unrealistic that most analysts believe it was designed to fail.

Indigenous systems not enough Intriguingly, what is presumably poorly received by traditional Taiwan backers in the United States does not harm the Ma administration’s standing in Taiwan’s domestic politics. On the contrary, there are many among the Taiwanese public who see the United States as “ripping off ” Taiwan on weapons sales, and the Ma administration arguably gains some popularity with the increased promotion of Taiwanmade weapons. Unfortunately, indigenous weapons systems alone

photo: US DoD US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy Daniel Chiu

will not be able to safeguard the freedom of Taiwan’s future generations to make their own political choices, and strategists agree that by far the most important aspect of Taiwan’s defense is its link—however tenuous today—to the US military. The second most important aspect might be the linkage to capable lobbyists in Washington. Taiwan is a democracy, and the United States and its allies want China to become one. As a bulwark against Chinese military power projection into the Pacific Ocean, as well as a potential platform for the US Air-Sea Battle concept, which is all about taking on China’s anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems and capabilities, Taiwan must naturally be a valued part of the US rebalancing to Asia. On the other hand, tense Sino-US relations over Taiwan may cost Washington dearly elsewhere, and the ROC government itself does not seem eager to play a military role in the pivot. Taken together, these factors warrant the continuation of the decades-long US policy of strategic ambiguity.


Chiu’s last-minute appearance at the Taiwan-US Defense Industry Conference (especially only after the media got wind) may have been an insight into the minds of policymakers in the Obama administration, but it was also a textbook example of this policy, as it signals to the Chinese side that the most crucial element of Taiwan-US military relations still exists.

Stronger signals needed Now and then, a stronger signal not related to military hardware, such as a media leak on US observers attending a Taiwanese military exercise, would be helpful, provided it is appropriate to the state of Sino-US relations of the day. Even bolder moves would be to invite Taiwan to participate in joint exercises, and to contribute overtly to the contents of strategic rebalancing. For future arms sales, a similar tactic could be replicated as that seen with the F-16 upgrade: by having Taiwan paint a pie-in-the-sky weapons system as

its first choice, while accepting the purchase of a more realistic acquisition. This allowed all sides to save face; most importantly China. Taipei must be extremely careful with the signals it sends. It has to identify who in Washington supports Taiwan’s inclusion in the pivot, and then move heaven and earth to give them argumentative ammunition. To that end, the Ma administration should credibly revive its requests for US arms sales, and not raise eyebrows unnecessarily through such inadvisable actions as implementing CBMs with China or ordering troops to withdraw from frontline islands. Most importantly, Taipei must work harder to prevent Chinese espionage efforts from obtaining intelligence on the very weapons systems linking the US and Taiwan militaries, and thus sabotaging those links. Leaders in Taiwan must be aware that every time a spy for China provides Beijing with classified information on systems facilitating the US-Taiwan linkage, it is a tremendous success for China. n

photo: AIT ROC travelers holding the chip-enabled passport depicted in this altered photo have been granted visa-free entry to the United States.

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photo: Aaron Webb A Barack Obama mask at the Nakamise shopping arcade in Asakusa, Tokyo. America is endeavoring through the pivot be become a bigger presence in Asia.

Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 11 (October, 2013)

International Face Time Pivot seen opening doors for ROC diplomats to expand international space Edward Hsieh


ince the rebalancing strategy was first broached publicly, and was referred to as the US “pivot to Asia,” many of the measures outlined by the US defense secretary in a 2009 speech have been realized, and specific results have been reached. Nowhere is this truer than in the field of diplomacy. After US President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House in 2012, he made clear his commitment to follow through on the rebalancing strategy. Recently, the United States has been eager to promote closer relationships, and engage in more

specific policies, with countries in the Asia-Pacific region. These policies include cooperation on a variety of fronts: economic, diplomatic, military, and even cultural. All these endeavors demonstrate an ambition on the part of the United States to return to its dominant role in regional affairs. Meanwhile, the rebalancing strategy has and will continue to have a profound impact on the countries of Asia. While the US pivot to Asia has been promoted as a sort of strategic transformation, this is not entirely accurate; in fact, despite a decade of focusing on the Middle East, the global superpower never truly left

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hsieh is an instructor at National Defense University’s Army Command and Staff College. He can be reached for comment at


photo: Erin Kirk-Cuomo US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta describes America’s new strategy focusing on the Asia-Pacific region at the 2012 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

Asia. What, then, are the implications of the US pivot to Asia, and how should Taipei make policy given these conditions? At the Shangri-La Security Dialogue held in Singapore in June 2012, then US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta promised that, “we were there then, we are here now and we will be here for the future.” As if to prove it, Panetta announced the shift in deployment of 60 percent of US Naval assets to the region— up from 50 percent prior to the rebalancing strategy.

Keeping pace Panetta explained in his Singapore speech that the rebalance is necessary to keep pace with world trends. “After all, the global center of gravity is steadily shifting toward the Asia-Pacific, tying America’s future prosperity and security ever more closely to this fastgrowing region,” he said. “At the same time, increasing military spending, challenges to maritime security, non-traditional threats ranging from piracy to

terrorism, and the destruction wrought by natural disasters are making the region’s security environment more complex.” The strategy is held aloft by four pillars, the first of which is America’s commitment to a set of principles that it believes will help advance peace and security in the region. The second pillar is the modernization and strengthening of US alliances and partnerships in the region. The third involves an enhanced US presence across the Pacific and Indian oceans, and the final pillar is force projection, including the aforementioned plan to have 60 percent of the US naval fleet based in the Pacific by 2020, as well as renewed investment in the types of military assets that are needed in the Pacific theater. In sum, the United States is attempting to integrate a diversity of resources and measures, including political, economic, diplomatic and military, for the purpose of safeguarding its interests and those of its allies in the Asia-Pacific region. Still, there are those in Asia who question the

International Space  b  21

meaning of the pivot. As one Chinese idiom puts it: “Europe Primary, Asia Secondary.” All eyes are on the United States and how it will define, through its actions, just what exactly the pivot means. From a diplomatic perspective, the means to accomplish this include closer ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and becoming signatory to its Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), as well as the establishment of closer strategic cooperation with regional allies, particularly Japan. Recently, even countries that had previously sought to reduce, if not sever, ties with the US military, such as the Philippines, as well as former enemies like Vietnam, are looking to ensconce themselves deeper into the American orbit as a means of strengthening their positions in the increasingly volatile South China Sea. Of course, the diplomatic component of the rebalancing strategy cannot be entirely divorced from the other components. On the economic front, the United States is committed to pushing the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) as a means of strength-

ening links with Pacific Rim countries, a dozen of which (collectively worth 25.7 percent of the world’s trade) have so far become TPP members. These include Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, and Japan. Diplomacy played no small part in promoting the TPP, as well as in reaping its benefits.

Asian deployments Even the military component has diplomatic benefits, such as US arms sales to regional allies who are dependent on them to maintain their own defense in a climate of heightened maritime tensions. In addition to sales are the deployment of US forces and high-tech weapons systems on foreign soil, such as the placement of F-22 Raptor stealth fighter aircraft, F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters, and MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft in Japan, as well as deploying the new littoral combat ship (LCS) the USS Freedom in Singapore. Each military deployment; each joint military exercise; indeed, each piece of weapons hardware sold is

photo: Jay Pugh Sailors board the littoral combat ship USS Freedom in Sembawang, Singapore on Aug. 2, 2013. The Freedom deployment is representative of the Asian pivot.


less and less a purely military matter, and more and more a diplomatic message. Washington intends it as a message to its friends in the region that they can rely on their US allies to help safeguard their security; but it is also a message to certain countries in the region that would rather the United States stay away. That message is very clear: we are here to stay. All this implies a surfeit of opportunity for the Republic of China’s (ROC) diplomacy. The ultimate goal of Taiwan’s foreign policy is to ensure a favorable environment for the preservation of the nation and to support the sustainable development of its economy. The US rebalancing to Asia opens the door for Taiwan to become involved in issues of regional security, especially at a time when certain countries continue to argue over territorial issues surrounding so many of the uninhabited islands in the region’s littoral. The trend over the past few years shows that the regional situation is becoming more and more intense, especially in the East and South China seas. It is against this backdrop that several heartening advances have been made in US-Taiwan relations. One of these was the November 2012 announcement that ROC passport holders had been added to the Visa Waiver Program, making Taiwan the 37th

country to make it onto that list. This move was very meaningful for Taiwan; in addition to being a major diplomatic achievement for a country whose international space is extremely marginalized, it also signaled improvement in US-Taiwan relations. This was followed by the March 2013 US-Taiwan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) council meeting at which representatives engaged

“Beijing has resolutely refused to give up in its efforts to hamper the ROC’s attempts at diplomacy at every turn.”

in negotiations over seven major issues including a bilateral investment agreement between the two countries, trade barriers, food security, and other topics of mutual concern. While Taiwan’s relations with the United States have improved markedly since the launch of the rebalancing strategy, its ties with China are likewise sunny, with cross-strait interaction becoming closer and more peaceful.

photo: Andy Dunaway Two US Air Force F-22A Raptors taxi at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The US pivot to Asia is intended to cement the US position as the region’s security guarantor.

International Space  b  23

photo: Kattebelletje China’s commitment to unification is seen in this large propaganda board in Xiamen with China and Taiwan depicted as two sisters embracing each other.

In April 2013, Taiwan and China discussed the possibility of establishing representative offices on each other’s soil. Later, in June, the two sides built upon their Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to close a deal on trade in services, and in August, with support from both the United States and China, Taiwan (under the moniker Chinese Taipei) was invited to sit in as a guest at the recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization— the first time since 1971 that the ROC has send representatives to this body, of which it was a founding member.

Taipei still finds itself in a diplomatic plight, with only 23 countries recognizing Taipei. Moreover, Taiwan is still not a member of the United Nations, or any of its specialized agencies. It is a difficult tightrope to walk: China continues to block ROC participation in the international arena, despite promises from the current ruling party that things would improve after the 2000-2008 presidency of opposition politician Chen Shui-bian came to an end. Nevertheless, despite Ma’s best efforts to solicit some sort of leeway from China, Beijing has resolutely refused to give up in its efforts to hamper the ROC’s attempts at diplomacy at every turn.

Diplomatic plight

Despite these obstacles, Taipei must manage to take advantage of the US strategy and assure its own indispensability in the current Asian security environment. How can this be accomplished? It begins with rethinking the future. For the future of Taiwan’s diplomatic environment, it has to be acknowledged that China is the most serious security concern, and

Despite the US rebalancing strategy giving Taiwan an opportunity to reach out to the international community, challenges remain. For one, notwithstanding President Ma Ying-jeou’s so-called diplomatic truce with China over the fight to seize each other’s allies,


that the United States is the most important pillar of Asia-Pacific security. In the short term, the administration should pursue Ma’s “three lines of defense” designed to placate China and forestall an attack. These consist of an institutionalization of cross-strait rapprochement, an enhancement of Taiwan’s soft power, and an alignment of defense with diplomacy.

Positive relationship In the long term, however, it would behoove Taiwan’s government to maintain its positive relationship with the United States and to ensure that Washington will keep its promises, as spelled out in the Taiwan Relations Act, to continue to sell defensive weaponry to the island, and to come to its aid in the event of a Chinese attack. Moreover, Taipei should press the Obama White House, as well as its successor governments, to remain vigilant regarding the Six Assurances made during the administration of President Ronald Reagan on the issue of US-Taiwan relations, which include, inter

alia, a promise that no consultations would take place with Beijing on the issue of arms sales to Taiwan, and that Washington would not exert pressure on Taipei to negotiate with Beijing. These two items have not received as much attention by the Obama administration as they should have, and questions remain over how rigidly the assurances are being followed as the United States—as well as Taiwan—attempt to ingratiate themselves with China. Clearly, Taiwan's interests are not perfectly aligned with either Washington’s or Beijing’s, and so the tightrope must be walked. The US strategy of rebalancing to Asia represents the government of the United States acting in its own interests, and therefore the government of Taiwan must do likewise. Taiwan has several often-overlooked strengths that the Ma administration should leverage in order to ensure Taiwan’s inclusion within US grand strategy. This is not to consign the nation to being merely a chip on the table as the superpowers play the great game; it is more about ensuring that Taiwan remains an important asset that will be a key point in trilateral relations in the decades to come. n

photo: Paul Seeber Capt. William Baldwin leads Vietnamese military officers on a tour of the USNS Matthew Perry while in Brunei to support an ASEAN HADR exercise.

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Strategic Vision vol. 2, no. 11 (October, 2013)

No Free Rider

Stronger defense, better DC interaction needed to make Taiwan a pivot asset Michal Thim

photo: ROC MND A Taiwan soldier takes part in mountainous terrain training. There is more that Taiwan can do to establish itself as a viable US partner in the Asian pivot.


he birth of the US rebalancing to Asia policy was one accompanied with great proclamations and perhaps even greater expectations. It came about during what had until then been unusually assertive behavior from Beijing vis-à-vis its neighbors over sovereignty claims in the South China Sea after the spring of 2009. The rebalancing was given more specific shape in an article titled America’s Pacific Century written by then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the magazine Foreign Policy in October 2011, as well as in President Barack Obama’s

speech before the Australian Parliament in November 2011. In her article, Clinton identified the following areas as being crucial to the rebalancing effort: “strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.” Generally speaking, rebalancing has two mutu-

Michal Thim is a PhD candidate in the Taiwan Studies Program at the China Policy Institute, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, University of Nottingham and a Research Fellow at the Prague-based thinktank Association for International Affairs.


ally dependent pillars. The military pillar aims to strengthen current deployments across the region and employ a strategy to counter China’s growing Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) capabilities within the first and second island chains. While a strategy for that is not in place yet, an operational concept for joint deployment of naval and air assets called AirSea Battle is receiving heated discussion, along with alternatives such as the Offshore Balancing concept. The economic pillar is centered on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has an ambition to create a large Asia-Pacific free trade zone under American leadership. However, some critics are beginning to worry about US resolve after developments in Syria and Obama’s absence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Map indicating the first island chain in the Pacific (red line).

Map: Suid-Afrikaanse

Cooperation (APEC) summit in Indonesia in early October—a consequence of the government shutdown.

Sequestration blues Across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration, are another source of doubts being cast on the rebalance. While some of those factors are more serious than others, the rebalancing is not going anywhere. After all, the policy is a result of China’s rise and the common interest of the United States and its regional allies to manage (if not counter) that rise. Now the question is what role Taiwan has in the US rebalancing. This cannot be answered without outlining the importance of Taiwan for the US interests. Perhaps the most ignored is Taiwan’s value as an economic partner and an asset to TPP-related efforts. Yet, Taiwan is the 11thlargest trade partner of the United States, the fourth-largest trading partner of Japan, and it belongs to the world’s top 30 economies according to nominal GDP. More discussed is the geostrategic importance of Taiwan. Should Taiwan fall under the control of the People’s Republic of China, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) would possess a crucial strategic ad-

A Pivotal Asset  b  27

photo: ROC Coast Guard A Taiwanese fishing vessel ferries activists to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands as the silhouette of Japanese Coast Guard ships loom in the background.

vantage in its ongoing efforts to break through the first island chain. Finally, Taiwan is of crucial importance for the key US ally in the region: Japan. Tokyo has come under significant pressure recently after Beijing stepped up its activities in and around the Diaoyutai/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. Even neutral Taiwan gives Japan some sense of security. However, Taiwan in the possession of China would put Japan’s control over the disputed area under great stress. Therefore, it is imperative for the position of the United States and its allies to prevent a violent takeover of Taiwan by the PRC.

Favorable conditions Whether the current or any future administration in Taiwan pursues a policy of closer engagement with the PRC is less relevant in this respect. Firstly, for all the states in the region, China is a crucial economic partner, and Taiwan is by no means special in this respect. Secondly, if the Republic of China (ROC) government is able to find peaceful way of resolving its dispute with the PRC, then it will only be one of the

favorable conditions foreseen in the Taiwan Relations Act. The other favorable condition is that Taiwan not be coerced into unification by force. Arguably, Taiwan, in its economic interactions with Beijing, is in a more sensitive situation than, say, Japan or the Philippines, given the island’s peculiar

“Peaceful unification is something that the United States (and Japan) would have to deal with.”

political status. Would Beijing be willing to use economic interdependence as a weapon against Taiwan? Very likely so. But that does not mean that such an effort would necessarily be successful. The use of economic sanctions as a tool for punishment or coercion does not have a particularly successful track record. If China tries to coerce Taiwan economically rather than militarily, it may avoid the risk of running into military conflict with the United States, but it will also send a clear signal that a peaceful solution is off the table. There is also the risk that


photo: TECRO Ambassador Pu-tsung King, Representative of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, center.

the government in Taipei will capitulate, and agree to annexation under Beijing’s terms. Peaceful unification is something that the United States (and Japan) would have to deal with, but for the moment, there is no market in Taiwan for promoting a unification policy, and any democratically elected government in Taiwan has to reflect upon this as a major constraint limiting the likelihood of political talks with Beijing. The set of items on Taiwan’s to do list is manifold if it wishes to play any role in the rebalancing, but three take prominence: 1) increasing self-defence capabilities; 2) representation of Taiwan’s interests in the United States, namely in Washington, DC and 3) mitigation of Taiwan’s economic dependence on the PRC. None of those categories requires a specific US reaction; they simply create more favorable conditions for Taiwan to become implicitly beneficial to US interests in the region (which are arguably, to a large extent, also Taiwan’s interests). Firstly, Taiwan will contribute to the rebalancing by increasing its asymmetrical defense capability aimed at overcoming the PRC’s quantitative (and increasingly also qualitative) edge. Taiwan is taking some

steps in that direction: Domestic development of supersonic anti-ship missiles Hsiung-Feng III and cruise missiles Hsiung Feng IIE, and a new type of missile with an extended range, will put significant constraints on the PLAN, as well as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), should they ever try to cross the Taiwan Strait.

Asymmetrical defense Development and deployment of fast attack missile boats carrying HF-3 anti-ship missiles is another step in the right direction. So is the hardening of air bases and development of a rapid runway repair capability, as well as utilization of highways as alternative air strips. Much has yet to be accomplished to fully develop an effective asymmetrical defense force, but the aforementioned steps are encouraging. In addition to improving its hardware, the ROC military needs to address the issue of low morale in the military, and the generally unfavorable image that the army has among the populace. Recent outrage over the death of young conscript Hung Chung-chiu shows that much remains to be accomplished in the

A Pivotal Asset  b  29

direction of better communication between the military and the public. The transition to all-volunteer force, promised in 2008 by President Ma Ying-jeou, appears to be a necessity given future demographic constraints caused by the nation’s low (below replacement level) fertility rate. Despite the soundness of the policy to professionalize the ROC military, the current administration’s efforts in that regard have been less than effective: the deadline has already been postponed twice, and recruitment targets are below expectations. Increasing domestic defense capabilities is generally what the United States expects from all of its regional partners and allies. Arguably, this is also in Taiwan’s best interests. Secondly, important improvement must be made in the area of diplomacy; namely Taiwan’s diplomatic presence in Washington, DC. The Taiwan issue is one of very few that enjoys broad bipartisan support in the increasingly sharp partisan polarization in the US Congress. However, US lawmakers are often left in confusion when Taiwan’s unofficial em-

bassy in the US—the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO)—says one thing and various pro-Taiwan advocacy groups say another.

“Recent outrage over the death of young conscript Hung Chung-chiu shows that much remains to be accomplished in the direction of better communication between the military and the public.” While some lawmakers take TECRO’s position as official (rightfully so), others do not consider TECRO to be very credible. Naturally, much of this reflects the blue-green political divide in Taiwan. However, bringing this divide on the Hill is not a very sensible thing to do if both sides wish to convey a positive image about Taiwan. While advocacy groups should not consider TECRO a rival entity, TECRO should not serve simply as an extension of the ruling party in Taiwan (whichever

photo: Kun-chia Wu Protestors gather in Taipei to demand justice in the death of conscript soldier Hung Chung-chiu, highlighting the military’s public relations problems.


photo: Luuva The port of Kaohsiung has been declining as Taiwan’s factories have moved to China, exacerbating the Taiwanese reliance on the Chinese market.

happens to be power at any given moment). Instead it must represent the interests of all the people of Taiwan, no matter their political affiliation. Despite their differences, there is a platform on which Taiwan’s diplomacy and the interest groups operating on the Hill can find common ground: The PRC’s military modernization presents a clear threat to Taiwan’s security, and neither side of the Taiwan political divide is particularly keen to experience forceful unification of Taiwan as a province of the PRC.

Economic vulnerability Thirdly, Taiwan needs to explore ways to diversify its economic dependence on the China market. Admittedly, this would not be easy to accomplish, but it is imperative to decrease Taiwan’s vulnerability in this area. The government in Taipei cannot forbid Taiwan’s companies from operating and investing in China, but it can increase efforts to expand trade relations with other countries. This cannot happen overnight, but today even debate about trade diver-

sification is strikingly missing from the discourse. Having listed some of the steps that Taiwan can take to contribute to the success of the rebalancing, there are some arrangements that the United States could and should pursue to make Taipei more comfortable. It is clear that Taiwan, lacking a formalized defense arrangement with the United States such as the one that Japan enjoys, will seek a dual approach toward the PRC: engagement with and hedging against. It is understandable that some voices in the United States are concerned about Taiwan getting too close to China. Yet, these worries can be mitigated by giving Taiwan a comfort zone by expressing public support. This can be done in various ways and does not necessarily include grand political declarations. Frequent visits of senior US cabinet officials to Taiwan is one option; lifting the policy that prevents Taiwan government officials from entering Washington, DC is another. The United States needs Taiwan, and Taiwan needs the United States, and in many ways this mutual need is restricted by impractical arrangements. n


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Strategic Vision, Issue 11  

Strategic Vision is a magazine put out by NCCU's Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides analysis...

Strategic Vision, Issue 11  

Strategic Vision is a magazine put out by NCCU's Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides analysis...

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