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STRATEGIC VISION Volume 3, Issue 15


for Taiwan Security

June, 2014


ISSN 2227-3646

Humanitarian Aid The Chinese Approach Gregory Coutaz

Oil Rig Crisis in SCS

China’s Appetite and Riots in Vietnam Huong Le Thu Xi Eyes Military Restructuring for PLA Lu Wen-hao Chinese Spies Target Taiwan, US Secrets Edward Hsieh

Competing Security Alliances: An Asia-Pacific Conflict Waiting to Happen? Carlos Hsieh


for Taiwan Security

Volume 3, Issue 15


June, 2014

Contents Chinese oil rig makes waves in Vietnam.........................................4

Huong Le Thu

Xi prioritizes development of the military.................................... 9

Lu Wen-hao

Humanitarian assistance an opportunity for Beijing................... 14

Gregory Coutaz

Chinese espionage in Taiwan a threat to security......................... 19

Edward Hsieh

Regional security alliances and the risk of conflict......................24

Carlos Hsieh

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 dkarale.kas@gmail.com before formal submission via email. The views expressed in the articles are the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of their affiliate institutions or of Strategic Vision. 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 members of the US and Philippine armed forces forming a line to help unload relief supplies for hurricane-ravaged Tacloban City delivered by USS Freedom (LCS 1) is courtesy of Jonah Stepanik.

Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Raviprasad Narayanan Richard Hu Felix Wang Lipin Tien Laurence Lin Aaron Jensen STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 3, Number 15, June, 2014, 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: dkarale.kas@gmail.com. Or by telephone at: +866 (02) 8237-7228 Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: www.mcsstw.org. © Copyright 2014 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


nce again, we are happy to offer our readers this, our latest issue of Strategic Vision. As we move into the summer months and the temperature heats up in Taiwan, the region has seen a number of security-related events take place that demand analysis. We are proud to offer you that analysis. In keeping with our efforts to provide our readers with a wide variety of perspectives on issues of importance to AsiaPacific security, we are happy to lead this month’s issue with an analysis by Huong Le Thu of the recent placement by China of an oil rig in waters claimed by both China and Vietnam. Dr. Huong, who is a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, looks at the possible motivating factors behind Beijing’s decision to make such a bold move, as well as the fallout from the riots that occurred in Vietnam in response to the perceived territorial incursion. Colonel Lu Wen-hao, who is the deputy director of the Research and Development Office at the ROC National Defense University, provides his analysis of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to consolidate his control over the military and how trends suggest that he will prioritize military development during his tenure as leader. Gregory Coutaz of National Chengchi University’s International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies analyzes China’s behavior with regard to providing disaster relief and how that provision of aid is too often linked to political disputes, representing a soft-power missed opportunity. Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hsieh, who is an instructor at the ROC National Defense University currently conducting research at the British think tank RUSI, takes an eye-opening look at the dangerous prevalence of Chinese espionage activities being conducted in and against Taiwan. Dr. Carlos Hsieh of the Department of Political Science at Fu Hsing Kang College examines the possibility of conflict being the result of the emerging security alliances in the AsiaPacific region We hope you enjoy this issue of Strategic Vision and look forward to providing information and analysis on the state of the Asia-Pacific security landscape in the future. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision

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Strategic Vision vol. 3, no. 15 (June, 2014)

Making Waves

Chinese deployment of oil rig sparks diplomatic row, deadly riots in Vietnam Huong Le Thu

photo: Richard Child An oil rig in the turbulent waters of the North Sea. China’s placement of its Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig within Vietnam’s EEZ has raised tensions in the region.


n May 2, 2014, the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) placed its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig in the disputed waters of the Paracel Islands, around blocks 118 and 119, which lie approximately 120 nautical miles east of Vietnam’s Ly Son Island and 180 nautical miles south of China’s Hainan Island. Viewing the move as a direct aggression against Vietnamese sovereign territory, Hanoi has lodged official complaints through primarily diplomatic channels while riots have erupt-

in an area of overlap between the two countries’ respective Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ), neither party is permitted to engage in unilateral exploration beyond a potential median line in such overlapping areas, according to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are signatories. The action came as a surprise to Vietnam, as well as to the rest of the world, and many viewed it as a

ed around Vietnam, targeting Chinese-run factories and other businesses. While the site at which CNOOC deployed the oil rig, known in Vietnam as the HD-981, is located with-

deliberately provocative move on the part of China, which in recent years has been ramping up its efforts to exert unilateral control over large swathes of the South China Sea, as well as of the East China Sea. As if

Dr. Huong Le Thu is a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. She can be reached for comment at lethu@iseas.edu.sg.

Chinese Oil Rig  b  5

to add credence to this interpretation, Chinese maritime agencies dispatched a fleet of some 80 ships (the number has increased to over 100 since early May), including seven military vessels as well as aircraft to support the rig’s operations, which Beijing claimed were merely “exploratory and research-oriented.” Hanoi was alarmed and has repeatedly requested the removal of the oil rig through diplomatic channels. Tensions are growing high as water cannon fights and collisions between the Vietnamese and Chinese ships continue. A number of Vietnamese fishermen and coast guard personnel have been injured in these skirmishes, and the waters around the Paracel Islands threaten to boil over as each successive incident carries with it the risk of further escalation.

Questionable motives The risky move upset the status quo and continues to represent a serious threat to regional peace. Outside the secretive halls of Zhongnanhai, the motives behind China’s bold action against Vietnam are poorly

understood and invite various interpretations. While some commentators, such as Ha Anh Tuan writing in The National Interest, have interpreted the HD 981 deployment as a strategic mistake on China’s part, the move exhibits a certainty and determination that appears calculated to send a message, not

“This is not a matter of resource competition. Rather, it is a matter of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

just to Vietnam, but to other countries in the region. The message is that the meticulously crafted image of China as a benevolent giant driven by a “good neighbor” policy is a thing of the past. For one thing, the timing of the action is curious. It took place on the eve of the 24th ASEAN Summit, and may thus be interpreted as Beijing throwing down the gauntlet to the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—many of whom


have cozy economic relations with the PRC—as a test of that organization’s unity. Alternatively, it may have been a response to Beijing feeling left out after the recent visit of US President Barack Obama to the region—a trip in which he failed to put China on an itinerary which included Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. Others have suggested that Beijing felt encouraged to act more assertively after the Russian annexation of Crimea failed to elicit any effective reaction from an increasingly indifferent international community. In fact, Beijing’s motivations were very unlikely to have been influenced heavily by any of these timingrelated factors, as the redeployment of a US$1 billion oil rig is a demanding operation that surely required long-term planning. Most likely there were a number of factors at play, among them China’s pure hunger for resources—particularly oil and gas—coupled with its growing disregard for the sovereignty concerns of neighboring nations or its own image abroad. China currently suffers from rapidly decreasing imports of crude oil, such as those from Sudan, for example, which dropped from approximately 260,000 barrels per day in 2011 to zero by April 2012, when

production in that country was shut down. This serves as a reminder of the lack of reliability of the international energy sector and may have prompted Beijing to seek energy resources it can control more directly, making the vast reserves believed to exist under the waters surrounding the Paracel Islands seem like a natural option to a resource-hungry China.

“Whatever the reasons may be, the oil rig’s deployment illustrates that the ‘peaceful rise of China’ has been a pipe dream.” For Vietnam, which is the only other claimant to the Paracels (next to the PRC and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan)—unlike the Spratly Islands, where there are several claimants, namely the ROC, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines—this is not a matter of resource competition. Rather, it is a matter of territorial integrity and sovereignty. Hanoi holds to UNCLOS which stipulates that unilateral drilling is a violation of the 1982 international law. Beijing’s action is also being read as a repudiation of its own

photo: Chuck Kennedy President Barack Obama and Chief Priest Seitaro Nakajima watch archers on horseback demonstrate their skills at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, Japan.

Chinese Oil Rig  b  7

photo: VOA Chinese citizens are evacuated from Vietnam by ships dispatched by Beijing after the beginning of riots targeting primarily Chinese companies.

stated commitment to “self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability,” as stated in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which China signed with ASEAN in 2002. Whatever the reasons may be, the oil rig’s deployment illustrates that the “peaceful rise of China” has been a pipe dream. The initial plans call for the HD-981 to continue exploration until August 2014. Vietnam’s economic ties with China, its high regard for comradeship toward Beijing, and the lack of any security alliances may have given the PRC confidence that Hanoi would be easily cowed by the move. The official line from the PRC is that it is limiting its actions to the exploration of territory that lies within the 9-dash line—a unilateral claim by Beijing, as well as of the ROC, over almost the entire South China Sea.

Public outcry The deployment of the CNOOC oil rig within the Vietnamese EEZ spurred strong opposition, both from the Vietnamese government as well as from its people. The move was perceived as an invasion

and triggered a wave of nationalism, which had serious repercussions for Vietnam’s international image. Long-active groups of dissidents and activists organized demonstrations to oppose the PRC’s aggression, demanding from the government concrete and transparent actions in dealing with the crisis (as well as requesting the release of political prisoners who had been previously arrested for their pro-democracy agitation). While the demonstrations that took place in big cities, as well as those held by Vietnamese communities in cities around the world, have largely been peaceful, riots broke out on May 13, 2014, that detracted from the country’s international image. The riots took place in Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ha Tinh, which are home to many Chinese—as well as Taiwanese, Singaporean, South Korean, and Japanese—factories and offices that were attacked by mobs. These Taiwanese and other factories likewise fell victim to the outbursts of anti-Chinese sentiment. Violent acts of vandalism left behind three dead according to Vietnam—four, according to China— and hundreds were injured, factories burnt, and horror inflicted among the foreign investors as well as the Vietnamese people. While international public


photo: VOA Vietnamese protestors react to the Chinese state-owned oil company deploying an oil rig to conduct exploration operations in Vietnamese waters.

opinion was quick to jump to the conclusion that the riots were the outcome of exploited workers fueled with nationalist fervor finding a release for their suppressed anger, the riots came as a surprise to Vietnamese people, too. Increasingly, domestic opinion is in general agreement that the riots have done major harm to Vietnam, even as they have only served to benefit China in the wider public-relations war. Suddenly, Vietnam came to be seen as an unruly troublemaker in this crisis, irresponsibly lashing out in anger at everyone, not only the Chinese.

Internal chaos has contributed to growing distrust both within the country and from the outside. China is also capitalizing on the situation by making sure

more than just security concerns, and can also be read as a warning about the withdrawal of Chinese investments. While investigations into the organizers of the riots are still ongoing, the lack of efficient communication from the Vietnamese authorities only serves to feed speculation and different interpretations of what actually happened. Since the riots, all public demonstrations have been disallowed. The government of Vietnam must endeavor to shore up the good reputation of the country in the eyes of the international community by finding those responsible for the riots and bringing them to justice. It must also address its communication problems, and strive to get its message out to the world in such a way that the country cannot be misrepresented this way again. Finally, Hanoi must

that their concerns about the “dangerous investment environment in Vietnam” receive a wide audience, despite the fact that Vietnam has controlled the situation, publicly apologized, and offered compensation to the Taiwanese companies that suffered the biggest losses. Moreover, the high-profile evacuation of some 4,000 workers from Vietnam was driven by

reinstate the people’s right to peacefully protest lest it do further harm to its international reputation. At the same time, the government must press forward with its efforts to protect Vietnamese sovereign territory as well as resource rights against countries like China who would attempt to bully Hanoi into submission. n

Growing distrust

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Strategic Vision vol. 3, no. 15 (June, 2014)

The China Dream Chinese president prioritizes military development in consolidating control Lu Wen-hao

photo: Cheong Wa Dae President Xi Jinping welcomes South Korean President Park Geun-hye with an inspection of the Chinese military honor guard in central Beijing.


ust after becoming party chief in late 2012, Xi Jinping announced what would become the hallmark of his administration. The “China Dream,” he said, is the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Xi’s Chinese Dream is described as aspiring to achieve the “Two 100s:” the material goal of China becoming a “moderately well-off society” by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party, and the goal of China becoming a

nine times in the closing remarks. Far from being just a domestic slogan, Xi is putting the world on notice that China is on the rise. During his meeting with US President Barack Obama in June 2013, Xi spoke of China’s ambitions to achieve national renewal and contribute to the cause of peace and development for all mankind. During his tour of Europe in late March 2014, he again expounded on his concept of the China Dream on several occa-

fully developed nation by about 2049, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Significantly, at the Third Plenum Decision of the 18th Party Congress, Xi mentioned his China Dream

sions. Most notably, Xi used the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with France to bring his vision of Chinese national rejuvenation to the French audience.

Colonel Lu Wen-hao is deputy director of the Research and Development Office of the ROC National Defense University. He can be reached for comment at luwenhao73@gmail.com.


taking office, taking the leadership role in a group in charge of deepening military reform, and detaining on corruption charges former Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Xu Caihao, who was known to have wielded the real power in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hierarchy under Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao.

The great revival

photo: RD Ward Former PLA General Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the CMC, in 2009.

Since he first took power, Xi has also been actively developing a military component to his China Dream. In contrast to his predecessors, Xi sought to shore up control over the military very soon after

“This dream can be said to be the dream of a strong nation. And for the military, it is a dream of a strong military,” Xi said in a speech to PLA Navy (PLAN) sailors in December 2012 on board the Haikou, a Type 052C guided-missile destroyer that has patrolled the disputed waters of the South China Sea. “To achieve the great revival of the Chinese nation, we must ensure there is equal effort in building a prosperous country, and developing a strong military,” he added. Xi has also been very active in making high-profile visits to military bases and space-related agencies in his first 100 days in office, something neither of his

photo: Baiyuncanggou Chinese soldiers practice close-quarters combat. One of President Xi Jinping’s priorities has been to create a fighting army in a strong Chinese military.

The China Dream  b  11

two immediate predecessors did. He was personally in charge of China’s military response to a newly escalated territorial dispute with Japan, and he has launched a campaign to enhance the armed forces’ capacity to “fight and win wars.” Xi is determap courtesy CIA mined to set himself apart from his predecessors. Whereas Hu Jintao was popularly viewed as relatively weak and colorless, insiders and analysts have characterized Xi as decisive and in control, it was reported in The Wall Street Journal. Just after taking over as head of the Communist Party, Xi solidified his grip on military power in less than four months. This differs dramatically from his predecessors. Jiang Zemin, who became party and military chief in 1989 but had little authority over the generals until Deng Xiaoping’s death in 1997, eventually won them over with defense-spending increases, keeping them focused on developing the PLA’s capacity to defend China’s borders and take Taiwan. Similarly, after Hu became party chief in 2002, he kept a low military profile and did not assume command of the military until Jiang relinquished his position as commanderin-chief in 2004, a full two years later. Hu sought to project a more benign image of China’s development, promoting the use of the term “peace-

ful rise,” a coinage later toned down even further to “peaceful development,” to describe China’s emergence on the world stage. Although Hu later encouraged the military to take on broader responsibilities, including cyber-security, he continued to stress their defensive nature. By contrast, Xi has quickly asserted his authority over the 11-man CMC, on which he is the sole civilian. Among his first moves was to issue orders for the armed forces to focus on “real combat” and “fighting and winning wars,” suggesting to many observers that China was developing the capability to project force beyond its borders. Moreover, he quicly engaged in an anti-corruption drive designed to purge certain senior officials and put his own men in place, according to a report by the Reuters news agency. Xi’s image as a powerful leader is actively endorsed by PLA generals. On April 2, 2014, the PLA Daily posted several special columns written by commandants of the PLA air force (PLAAF) and the seven military regions. In these articles, all of the regional military commanders, as well as the head of the PLAAF, proclaimed their loyalty to Xi. This kind of circumstance has not been seen since Deng retook power in the 1970s. These important endorsements imply that no one


is able to challenge Xi’s status as head of the PLA. During an important speech to military delegates at the recent National People’s Congress (NPC), Xi declared his intention to make sweeping changes to the PLA. He stated that China is currently enjoying a “window of opportunity” to accomplish military reform. Picking up on this theme, speeches by the delegates also emphasized that the military is at a critical juncture for reform: “If we seize this moment, reform may be accomplished in one fell swoop; if we let it pass by, we will lose a great opportunity.” Following up on his speech on military reform, Xi quickly created several new organizations to help bring his vision to fruition. First, he formed

pushed aside the Politburo, China’s highest authority. Second, they provide coordination between separate bureaucracies with shared responsibilities for issues like stability and cyber-security.

“By tying long-desired restructuring goals to reform, Xi may simply be bringing established military priorities behind his political banner.” The formation of these new organizations clearly signals that Xi is determined to accomplish military reform. Additionally, as more of the membership is

photo: Damiano Paganelli Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army in China conduct a marchpast in Beijing. PRC President Xi Jinping has prioritized effecting military restructuring.

the Leading Small Group on Comprehensively Deepening Military Reform. He followed this by creating the National Security Council and also a new leading group on cyber-security. These groups seem

revealed, it may also emerge that important figures tied to the old guard are excluded. The arrest on corruption charges of retired General Xu, a powerful figure who had recently aged out of his CMC vice

to have two major functions: First, they provide alternative power centers to get around mistrusted bureaucratic actors such as the National Development and Reform Commission and the Political-Legal Commission. This tactic was utilized by Mao Zedong in launching the Cultural Revolution, during which the Leading Small Group for the Cultural Revolution

chairmanship, is seen by analysts as confirmation that Xi is targeting the old guard faction in the PLA. Finally, by tying long-desired restructuring goals to reform, Xi may simply be bringing established military priorities behind his political banner. History has shown that PLA reorganization and structural reform has usually taken years to achieve.

The China Dream  b  13

photo: Bert van Dijk President Xi Jinping and other members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China during a meeting in 2012.

However, from his actions, Xi’s approach to military reform appears to suggest that he views traditional political processes as insufficient to carry out the kinds of reforms needed today. Previous efforts at reform have often been bogged down by bureaucratic interests in the military. For example, PLA academics and theorists agree that joint operations structures are critical if China is to fight and win future wars. Nevertheless, while many concepts have been proposed in the past, these ambitious changes have never been fully implemented, apparently due to resistance from the established military hierarchy.

Moreover, while the PLA’s command and force struc-

command structure. The prospects for PLA structural reform depend on how well Xi and his administration are able to centralize political power to carry out the broader structural reforms of the economy, government and other areas of policy. The impediments which plague efforts to carry out structural reform in the military are the same problems afflicting efforts to enact overall structural reform. The most important of these lies in the potential opposition from powerful individuals and interests who stand to lose from reforms. How Xi’s administration manages the political opposition to its efforts to carry out extensive structural reform bears directly on the stability and prospects for the world’s largest military. Moreover, these developments are worth close mon-

ture have been on the reform list for years, they have so far proven to be extremely resistant to change. Despite the rising importance of naval and aerospace operations in China’s maritime disputes, PLA national and regional headquarters remain dominated by army officers. They have, so far, stymied efforts to empower the other branches in order to create a joint

itoring by Taipei, given China’s recent submission of a document to the United Nations that included Taiwan and Penghu as part of its territorial claims, coupled with the Second Artillery—China’s strategic missile strike force targeted directly on Taiwan—being one of the four main beneficiaries of increased budgets and manpower allocations. n

Overcoming resistance

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Strategic Vision vol. 3, no. 15 (June, 2014)

No Relief

HA/DR presents opportunity for Beijing to rescue its international image Gregory Coutaz


n November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in Samar, central Philippines, and caused catastrophic damage. Typhoon Haiyan was reported by media outlets as being one of the strongest tropical cyclones in recorded history. Nearly 6,000 people were killed, and millions more were affected and displaced after the tropical cyclone left a wake of utter destruction. Initial estimates from the Philippine government point to reconstruction costs as high as US$5.7 billion. Beyond this number, the economic impact for the victims was disastrous. The scale of the catastrophe generated an outpouring of international sympathy and offers of assistance. Japan pledged US$10 million and offered to send

troops, ships, and planes, while Australia donated US$28 million in aid, including medical staff, shelter materials, water containers, and hygiene kits. The United States sent US$20 million in immediate aid, and an aircraft carrier, the USS George Washington, which carries about 5,000 sailors and more than 80 aircraft, to participate in relief efforts, along with four other US Navy ships. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), in sharp contrast, initially promised only US$100,000 in aid, with another US$100,000 through the Chinese Red Cross. The offering from the world’s second-largest economy quickly prompted cries of protest from international groups, as well as from the editorial pages of the Global Times, an

photo: Eoghan Rice In late 2013, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in Samar, in the central Philippines, and caused catastrophic damage and loss of life in Tacloban City.

Gregory Coutaz is a PhD candidate in National Chengchi University’s International Doctoral Program in Asia-Pacific Studies. He can be reached for comment at gregcoutaz@hotmail.com.

HA/DR Opportunities  b  15

photo: Jacob Kirk An American aircrew member surveys the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan while on a mission to provide relief in the Philippines.

English-language Chinese newspaper operated by The People’s Daily. Beijing finally decided to increase its modest pledge to US$1.6 million worth of tents, blankets and other goods. How to explain China’s relative reticence about giving aid to the Philippines? For one thing, China is a relative newcomer to overseas humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HA/ DR) operations. Following the Great Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26, 2004, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao announced that his country would donate about US$63 million, one of its largest pledges of international relief aid. The Chinese figure was quickly eclipsed when the United States increased its pledge to US$350 million, and Japan followed up with US$500 million. Moreover, the PRC watched with envy as American

phes, set up mobile command platforms for crisis response, and organized emergency rescue exercises and training. Solid steps at various levels of decisionmaking authority have been taken to significantly enhance the country’s capabilities for disaster relief operations.

vessels moved into the region with US Navy helicopters quickly and efficiently delivering food and critical supplies to the hardest-hit areas of Indonesia. Since then, China has actively pushed forward capacity building for comprehensive disaster risk management. Beijing has indeed established military jointresponse mechanisms for environmental catastro-

ing earthquake in Sichuan province. In 2010, some 21,000 and 12,000 armed forces members were respectively dispatched to take part in rescue efforts after the Yushu (Qinghai province) earthquake and the Zhouqu (Gansu province) mud-rock slide. According to official PRC sources, since 2011, the PLA and PAPF have contributed a total of 370,000 personnel and

Domestic relief The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police Force (PAPF) play a vital role as the shock force in the most urgent, arduous, and hazardous rescue tasks. In 2008, some 1.26 million men were sent to counter the disaster of freezing weather, sleet, and snowstorms in southern China, and 221,000 participated in rescue operations after the devastat-


photo: Simon Davis A relief worker with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development assists with relief efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

197,000 vehicles or other machines of various types, flown over 225 sorties (using fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters), organized 870,000 militiamen and reservists, participated in emergency rescue and disaster relief operations in cases of floods, earthquakes, droughts, typhoons and fires, rescued or evacuated more than 2.45 million people, and rushed 160,000 tons of goods to disaster-hit areas.

Role model The Asian continent is highly prone to natural disasters. Earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, floods, and mudslides negatively impact developed and developing countries alike. Extreme weather events know no border and can cause damage in multiple jurisdictions. China, a country all too familiar with the deadly repercussions from environmental catastrophe, can be a role model for the region in responding to these devastating events through a combination of know-how and considerable military assets. Beijing

is adapting itself to the new types of security threats, and does not hesitate to emphasize the employment of its armed forces in peacetime. Disaster relief and emergency rescue operations represent a rare opportunity for China to actively engage in military cooperation with other countries. This engagement in turn has the potential to build

“By linking its donations to political disputes, Beijing has missed an opportunity to improve its image and to generate goodwill.” mutual trust, and reduce misunderstanding and miscalculation between nations with strained relations. Conducting MOOTW, or military operations other than war, is particularly pertinent in addressing and working toward the resolution of long-term political stalemates. Beijing understands the necessity to promote dialogue and cooperation with its neighboring countries as an effective way to maintain secu-

HA/DR Opportunities  b  17

rity and stability. China’s armed forces have increased their participation in international security cooperation, and intensified collaboration on confidence-building measures (CBMs). In reference to recent tensions in the region over territorial sovereignty, it seems that the need for such mutual exchange has never been greater. In the past few years, China has successfully carried out several exchanges with foreign armed forces on the basis of mutual benefit and mutual equality. In September 2013, China and Mongolia kicked off joint training for natural disaster relief. The eightday training exercise featured joint training courses, discussion forums, simulations, as well as field drills. The photo: Russell Dodson general objective was to help the two Chinese service members demonstrate their disaster management techniques to US service military forces improve their capacity members during Disaster Management Exchange 2013 at a US Marine Corps facility in Hawaii. in non-traditional security fields, enhance pragmatic cooperation and stimulate bilateral exercise involves multiple disaster management agenmilitary relations. Since 2010, PLA assistance teams cies from ARF members, civilian and military actors, have also provided medical services to local people and international humanitarian players. It constideeply affected by catastrophic weather-related events tutes a landmark move as a transition from dialogue in Haiti, Pakistan, and Indonesia while participating to practical cooperation amongst regional armed in joint humanitarian medical drills. China’s navy forces. If Beijing had a tendency to shy away from hospital ship, the Peace Ark, with 300 beds and over international disaster relief operations before, it now 100 medical professionals on board, has been an inrecognizes the importance of promoting its image as dispensable component for conducting emergency a responsible power, conscious of the political realirescue operations in distant waters. ties of international relations. In spite of these genuine efforts to establish inRelief simulations teractions with regional actors, and significant improvement in overseas operational capabilities in Additionally, China has been an active participant in the field of disaster risk management, China’s rethe ASEAN Regional Forum Disaster Relief Exercise gional conduct still contains major contradictions (ARF-DIREx). The ARF-DIREx is considered to be and hardly constitutes the foreign policy of a great the most inclusive simulation exercise in the Asiapower. The small amount of aid offered by China to Pacific region. First initiated in 2009, the ARF-led the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan struck the ar-


chipelago shows an incontestable lack of diplomatic maturity, and reflects the current unsatisfactory state of relations, if not outright hostility, between the two countries. Territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea have poisoned their relations since early 2012. Beijing is obviously angry over Manila’s decision to seek United Nations arbitration to resolve the dispute. Moreover, the Philippines’ tacit support of Japan’s plans to strengthen its military, along with ongoing negotiations with the United States on a larger American military presence in the country, have further infuriated PRC leaders. China must not absent itself from international relief efforts. By linking its donations to political disputes, Beijing has missed an opportunity to improve its image and to generate goodwill. The majority of Asian countries have become dependent on China’s large economy. Chinese companies provide investment and employment in the region, but China has failed to leverage these strengths in such a way as to enhance its soft power. As pointed out by Joseph Nye writing in The Wall Street Journal, Beijing

is spending billions of dollars to increase its soft power, but has only had a limited return on its investment. If China’s global perception has improved in Africa and South America, it remains largely negative among many Asian nations. The PRC lags far behind the United States in the winning of hearts and minds through culture, education, and other non-traditional forms of diplomacy, of which emergency assistance constitutes an important dimension. Beijing places great stress on and actively promotes friendship and partnership with its neighbors as an effective way to maintain an amicable, secure, and prosperous neighborhood. China’s lack of generosity with the Philippines reveals a deficit not only of compassion, but strategic thinking as well. Chinese leadership continues to rely on the levers of old-fashioned, realist perceptions of diplomacy based on economic and military might. Sadly for the many victims of Typhoon Haiyan, Chinese officials operate as though they can ascertain their influence through the traditional value placed on intimidation and coercion. n

photo: China Defense Blog The Peace Ark, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy hospital ship, sets sail. Such ships could contribute greatly to China’s efforts in disaster relief.

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Strategic Vision vol. 3, no. 15 (June, 2014)

Feeling Wanted Proliferation of Chinese spies in Taiwan threatens more than national security Edward Hsieh


n 2013, the US information security company Mandiant released a stirring report titled “APT1: Exposing One of China's Cyber Espionage Units,” leading to global concern over the aggressive use of electronic espionage and cyber-attacks against corporations and governments all around the world on the part of China’s highly organized and government-run cyber forces, including the in-

Tsai De-sheng, the former director-general of the Republic of China (ROC) National Security Bureau (NSB), submitted an annual report to the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that showed something was significantly abnormal: In the vast majority of confirmed espionage cases, Taiwanese individuals arrested for spying for China turned out to be military personnel, either active

famous People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398. While cross-strait relations are better than they have been for decades, reports indicate that there has been no reduction in spying by Beijing. On March 10, 2014,

duty or retired. Additionally, the boom in tourism across the Taiwan Strait has opened another channel of infiltration for Chinese spies. Even when the doors were just be-

Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hsieh is an instructor at the ROC National Defense University currently conducting research at RUSI, a British think tank. He can be reached for comment at edwardsh@ms12.url.com.tw.


ginning to open in 2009, a Chinese tourist named Ma Zhongfei walked away from his tour group at the Taipei 101 office tower and was apprehended 2 kilometers away taking photographs inside one of the ROC’s most important computer warfare command centers, a restricted facility that he had entered by accessing a back door. In 2013 alone, after restrictions on independent visitors had been lifted, nearly 3 million Chinese tourists visited Taiwan. Although China is well known for conducting espionage in Western countries such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Taiwan will always be a key focal point for China’s intelligencegathering activities.

Motivating factors Aside from political reasons, there are several other important motivations which drive the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to conduct espionage activity against Taiwan: the island is extremely valu-

able to the PRC, not only because of its geostrategic importance and the value of its high-tech industry, but as an important factor in the Chinese narrative of territorial integrity and national sovereignty as well. Thus, the PRC will always be driven to conduct espionage against Taiwan.

“The PRC’s infiltration activity is not only aimed at Taiwan’s military forces, it also seeks to better understand the US military relationship with Taiwan.” The PRC’s vigorous espionage campaign against Taiwan is facilitated by the fact that people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait share a similar ethnicity, language, and cultural background. This commonality helps PRC agents befriend, and win the trust of, their targets. Although some Taiwanese do not identify themselves as Chinese, a significant portion of residents in Taiwan consider themselves to be both Taiwanese and Chinese.

photo: Mike Wheatley The nondescript building in Shanghai, China from which the infamous Unit 61398 operates, according to the findings of the US security firm Mandiant.

Chinese Espionage  b  21

photo: Jiang Tourists from China pose for a photograph in front of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Cross-strait tourism represents a potential security risk to Taiwan.

According to the results of a recent poll conducted by the Taipei-based think tank Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, just under half (46.8 percent) of respondents self-identified as Chinese in the second quarter of 2014. This represents a decline of 14.3 percent from three months prior, according to the Survey of National Identity among Taiwanese People, which is conducted quarterly. This is roughly equal to the number (46.5 percent) of respondents who believed they were not Chinese. This highly inconsistent national identity leads to a lack of national unity, and the resulting internal divisions among the population represent a chink in the armor of Taiwan’s security that the PRC has been eager to exploit. While this may seem alarmist, Taiwan now is, frankly speaking, on the edge of a national security crisis. An examination of recent PRC espionage activity against Taiwan reveals several broad trends and developments. First, nearly all cases have been linked to highly sensitive military information or advanced, military-related technology.

Second, the majority of espionage cases are related to Taiwan-US military cooperation and procurement of military hardware. Therefore the PRC’s infiltration activity is not only aimed at Taiwan’s military forces, it also seeks to better understand the US military relationship with Taiwan, and attain sensitive details about the military hardware which the US sells to the ROC. Acquiring secrets about the US-Taiwan military relationship could help China to develop better countermeasures against US and Taiwan military equipment. This in turn would further strengthen the PLA’s Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) efforts against US forces in the event of a cross-strait conflict.

Raising doubts Third, continued PRC espionage success against Taiwan’s military will no doubt cause the US Department of Defense to doubt whether Taiwan can safeguard its secrets. This would further limit the scope of US-Taiwan military and security cooperation. Indeed, this is already happening according to


the former head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto US embassy. Speaking in a personal capacity, William Stanton cited the success and frequency of spying cases as serving to “undermine US confidence in security cooperation with Taiwan.” Last but not least, PRC spies have been uncovered from a wide spectrum of military backgrounds. From generals and retired officers to low-ranking personnel from the air force, navy, and army: the PRC has been successful in recruiting spies from all levels of Taiwan’s defense community. The broad scope of this problem raises difficult questions about the identity and loyalty of Taiwan’s military members. According to the NSB, a wide range of espionage cases exhibiting a diversity of techniques were uncovered between 1993 and 2013, including three which occurred in the United States and the United Kingdom. For those cases uncovered in Taiwan, one important aspect of turning an agent was found to be the use of personalized networks of influence, or guanxi, which is a defining feature of traditional Chinese social i nte r a c t i on , and one which still serves an

the importance of guanxi and has utilized it effectively in its espionage campaign against Taiwan. Peter Mattis, a US expert in the study of Chinese espionage and editor of the Jamestown Foundation’s

important purpose in contemporary society in both Taiwan and China. By building trust and friendship, individuals can strengthen their social networks to the point where guanxi connections can sometimes become more important than official channels. The PRC recognizes

Taiwan. In 2008, Taiwan’s government decide to lift the ban on tourist from China and allowed them to visit in small, organized tour groups. After 2011, Chinese were allowed to visit Taiwan freely, apart from controlled tour groups like the one that the tourist Ma walked

“Raising awareness and increasing general understanding of espionage activity is the first step toward bolstering defenses against hostile espionage activity.” China Brief, has described PRC espionage cases in Taiwan as the “control type” rather than the “mosaic” or examples of the “thousand grains of sand” approach. In contrast to the use of a controlled agent, the thousand grains of sand approach to espionage seeks to use a large number of individuals, each of whom collects just a small bit of information. These small pieces of the puzzle are assembled together to form a larger, and clearer, picture of the target. Unfortunately, this kind of approach is also being used in

Chinese Espionage  b  23

photo: FBI The US Federal Bureau of Investigation produced a video warning American students traveling in China not to become unwitting spies for Beijing.

away from. According to Taiwan Brain Trust, Chinese nationals already account for the highest ratio of illegal migrant workers in Taiwan. Worse still, the NSB is apparently unable to keep track of them all.

Human psychology and behavior is very hard to predict, and identifying potential spies is even more difficult. However, this does not mean that governments cannot do anything to mitigate or better guard against espionage. Raising awareness of the threat and increasing general understanding among the

they study in China. The contents of the video include a re-enactment of the events surrounding the PRC’s recruitment of a young American to commit espionage against his country. Similarly, the ROC government also released the repentance letter of a former ROC military officer who had committed espionage on behalf of the PRC. Thus, despite the fact that cross-strait relations have improved, and human interaction between the two sides has increased, PRC espionage against Taiwan has risen dramatically in the past few years. While the open acknowledgement of this fact may be politically sensitive to politicians and parties with an

public is the first step toward bolstering defenses against hostile espionage activity. In both the United States and the ROC, governments have recently taken steps to warn citizens against the threat of espionage. In April, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a video which seeks to educate young Americans about the dangers of espionage when

investment in greater rapprochement with China, the stakes are too high to ignore these espionage efforts. Counterintelligence operations, both covert and overt, must be made a priority to defend Taiwan from this threat and protect its citizens from becoming pawns in the spy games being played across the Taiwan Strait. n

Bolstering defenses

24  b

Strategic Vision vol. 3, no. 15 (June, 2014)

Axis and Allies

Asia’s emerging security alliances raise the specter of armed confrontation Carlos Hsieh


or the past decade, the United States has been embroiled in the global war on terror, with troops on the ground fighting the more conventional wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite the post-Cold War shift in US strategic focus from Europe to the Asia-Pacific, the war on terror forced Washington to allocate nearly all its military and diplomatic resources on the Middle East, essentially neglecting the Asia-Pacific—a fast-growing region that would come to play a more important role in global political, economic, and military affairs. With an eye to maintaining US superiority and leadership in the Asia-Pacific amid this growth, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the United States would increase its investment—diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise—in the region. This led to the “pivot”—later “rebalance”— to Asia: a strategy with five approaches: strengthening alliances; deepening partnerships with emerging powers; building a stable, productive and constructive relationship with China; empowering regional institutions; and helping to build a regional economic architecture. Nonetheless, the Asia-Pacific is arguably the most dynamic region in the world, and is significant for US security, economic, political and diplomatic interests, so Washington planned to enhance its engagement there and to avoid being seen as neglecting the region for priorities elsewhere.

On May 27, 2014, US president Barack Obama announced plans to keep nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan after year’s end, and to withdraw virtually all of them by the time his presidency comes to a close in late 2016, with fewer than 1,000 personnel remaining to staff a security office in Kabul. This suggests that the United States is really turning its focus to the Asia-Pacific region. In late April 2014, Obama headed to Asia to meet with the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. This symbolized the Obama administration’s strategic foreign-policy reorientation to Asia. Just prior to this visit to Asia, the Committee on Foreign Relations released a report examining progress on the non-military elements of the rebalance. The report, titled “Re-Balancing the Rebalance: Resourcing US Diplomatic Strategy in the Asia-Pacific Region,” addresses US foreign policy priorities to safeguard US security and prosperity and advance American values. The report also stressed that a successful rebalance must underscore an enduring US commitment to the region, and to do so across the full range of US government activities.

Military aspects move ahead As stated in the House report, the United States has successfully moved forward with the initial phases of implementing the military aspects of the rebalance,

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 carlosshiu@gmail.com.

Security Blocs  b  25

but given the broader strategic and policy goals, it is essential that the non-military elements also move forward with equal speed and weight. The rebalance reflects the need for the Obama administration to approach the Asia-Pacific region with a well-coordinated, whole-of-government approach. That approach requires better synchronizing and sequencing the military-security elements with the diplomatic, economic, and civil society elements, so that all move in a parallel and mutually reinforcing fashion, the report points out.

Shaping the future When Obama visited Japan, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a bilateral summit in Tokyo on April 24, reaffirming that the Japan-US alliance would lead the Asia-Pacific region in the spheres of security and economics. The following day, a joint statement between the United States and Japan was

released. Titled “The United States and Japan: Shaping the Future of the Asia-Pacific and Beyond,” it emphasized the US-Japan Alliance as the cornerstone for regional peace and security as well as a platform for global cooperation. It also stressed that the United States has deployed its most advanced military assets to Japan and was providing all necessary capabilities to meet its commitments under the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security. These commitments, the statement avers, and which Obama reiterated in a speech during the visit, extend to all the territories under the administration of Japan, including the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. In that context, the United States opposes any unilateral action that would seek to undermine Japan’s administration of the disputed islands. On April 28, 2014, Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III held a joint press conference at which Obama stated that the United States is renewing its leadership in the Asia-Pacific, and that

photo: Russian Presidential Press and Information Office The original leaders of the Shanghai Five group meet in 2002. The group has since become the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, or SCO.


its engagement is rooted in traditional alliances. He vowed that America would work together to build the Philippines’ defense capabilities and to work with other nations to promote regional stability, such as in the South China Sea. As the United States strengthens its bilateral security cooperation, it is also working together with regional institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit (EAS). Obama also reaffirmed the importance of peacefully resolving territorial disputes in the region, without intimidation or coercion. In that spirit, Washington supported Manila’s decision to pursue international arbitration concerning its territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea.  In the words of the House of Representatives, the US presence in the Asia-Pacific is built on promoting regional stability, fostering respect for international law, advancing respect for human rights, and maintaining freedom of navigation and unhindered

lawful commerce in the maritime regions. These objectives are fundamentally hinged on US alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines; its resilient relationships with Taiwan and Singapore; and its evolving relationships with Vietnam and Indonesia.

“Chinese leaders have expressed their total opposition to any US-dominated multilateral dispute-resolution mechanisms for settling the claims and counterclaims in the region’s littoral.” Although the pivot to Asia is widely seen as necessary path for the United States to pursue, it is not without its road bumps. As noted by Mark Landler of The New York Times, “The balancing act has become even trickier because of the sharp deterioration of

photo: Garry Welch A US Marine takes part in a multilateral exercise that includes Royal Thai, Republic of Korea and US Marines, conducted during Exercise Cobra Gold 2012.

Security Blocs  b  27

America’s relations with Russia. Perhaps no country has more to gain from a new Cold War than China, which has historically benefited from periods of conflict between the United States and Russia.” By strengthening its traditional alliances and deepening its partnerships in the region, Washington may be contributing to higher tensions, as the rebalancing strategy appears to have strengthened some Asian counties’ resolve, as evidenced by the recent flare-up between China and Vietnam. In response to the US pivot, Chinese leaders have expressed their total opposition to any US-dominated multilateral dispute-resolution mechanisms for settling the claims and counterclaims in the region’s littoral. Moreover, leaders in Beijing are under a high degree of domestic pressure not to be pushed around by countries like the Philippines, and by extension the United States.

Warnings issued Speaking on May 21 at an Asian regional security forum in Shanghai, Chinese President Xi Jinping issued an obscure warning when he opined that countries should not build up military alliances in Asia. Xi vowed that a rising China would seek “peaceful” means to resolve territorial disputes. The previous day, an editorial from China’s official Xinhua news agency urged countries from outside the region not to raise tensions; “Players from other parts of the world need to play a constructive role. They should refrain from starting fires and stoking flames.” In both cases, the unnamed outside country at which the statements are targeted is clearly the United States. Xi also called for the creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that would include Russia and Iran, and exclude the United States. This idea, floated at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, supports the theory that Beijing is

attempting to extend its influence and limit the role of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region. The United States and China each appear to be constructing their own security edifices in the region—or at the very least, security alliances. The big question is whether these efforts will result in a regional relationship akin to the global one between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. In such a scenario, what are Taiwan’s options to preserve its national interests? Taipei, which currently enjoys reasonably good relations with both Beijing and Washington, could be forced into a position where it would have to take a side. Siding with the United States over China would put Taiwan’s economy at risk, given how highly dependent it is on the Chinese economy. Conversely, actively entering Beijing’s orbit would effectively end the US military commitment to aid in Taiwan’s defense against a Chinese attack. Moreover, what of the Republic of China (ROC) sovereignty claims in the East and South China seas, which effectively mirror those of China? In order to best balance on the tightrope of great power rivalry, Taipei should take advantage of any event that will allow the ROC to maximize its national interests. Diplomatically, Taipei feels it must hew to obscurity and ambiguity in its dealings with the regional major powers, not unlike the US policy of strategic ambiguity. As a result, any country could theoretically be Taiwan’s enemy or its friend. Moreover, the ROC government must continue using the media and new media to press its sovereignty claims over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, Dongsha Island, and Taiping Island. This latter island is an ideal staging area for the ROC armed forces to conduct multilateral disaster relief operations with certain neighboring countries, which would have the effect of consolidating Taiwan’s importance and ROC sovereignty. Most importantly, leaders in Taipei must agree to support the principle of freedom of navigation through the region’s waters. n

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Strategic Vision, Issue 15  

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

Strategic Vision, Issue 15  

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

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