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STRATEGIC VISION Volume 6, Issue 32

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April, 2017

for Taiwan Security w

ISSN 2227-3646

Guaging US-Taiwan Relations Kitsch Liao & Michal Thim

Divide & Conquer Ching-kuo Liu

Cautious Diplomacy Wen-hao Lu

Opportunity for Cooperation Prakash Katoch

Potential Firestorm Chinese Efforts to Isolate Taiwan JS Bajwa


STRATEGIC VISION

for Taiwan Security

Volume 6, Issue 32

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April, 2017

Contents China’s united front strategy against Taiwan.................................4

Ching-kuo Liu

Taiwan relations with Trump administration..............................10

Wen-hao Lu

China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan.................................................... 15

JS Bajwa

India-Taiwan relations.................................................................. 19

Prakash Katoch

Weapon sales indicate US commitment to Taiwan.......................23

Kitsch Liao & 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 xiongmu@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 a US Army AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopter by Jorge Intriago.


Editor Fu-Kuo Liu Executive Editor Aaron Jensen Associate Editor Dean Karalekas Editorial Board Tiehlin Yen Raviprasad Narayanan Richard Hu Guang-chang Bian Dahua Mo Lipin Tien STRATEGIC VISION For Taiwan Security (ISSN 2227-3646) Volume 6, Number 32, April, 2017, 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: +886 (02) 8237-7228 Online issues and archives can be viewed at our website: www.mcsstw.org. © Copyright 2017 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

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he editors and staff of Strategic Vision would like to wish our readers well as the spring season blooms upon us. The Asia-Pacific continues to undergo important developments. We hope that students and scholars in the academic community have the chance to keep up with these events. In support of that effort, we offer our latest edition of Strategic Vision. We open this issue with Prakash Katoch, a retired Indian military general, who argues that India and Taiwan must strengthen relations to help counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Next, Lt. Col. Ching-kuo Liu, a PhD student at the Institute of Strategic Studies at the ROC National Defense University, highlights the PRC’s use of united front tactics against Taiwan. Dr. Wen-hao Lu, currently the deputy director of the Research and Development Office at the ROC National Defense University, argues that Taiwan should cautiously engage the new Trump administration. JS Bajwa, retired general with the Indian military and currently editor of Indian Defence Review, examines China’s efforts to isolate Taiwan on the international stage. Finally, Kitsch Liao, a member of the cyber security firm T5, and Michal Thim, a fellow with the Metropolitan Society for International Affairs, examine the Trump administration’s commitment to Taiwan’s security. We hope you enjoy this issue, and look forward to bringing you the finest analysis and reporting on the issues of importance to security in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific region. Dr. Fu-Kuo Liu Editor Strategic Vision


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Strategic Vision vol. 6, no. 32 (April, 2017)

Undermining Resolve China’s united front warfare activity seeks to divide and weaken Taiwan Ching-kuo Liu

photo: ROC MND ROC forces drill in preparation for an attack from China. Beijing has sought out allies, including in the Taiwan military, in an effort to divide and conquer.

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ince the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defeated the Kuomintang (KMT) in the presidential campaign on 12 January, 2016, the political winds in Taiwan have changed dramatically. This is especially true regarding the fundamentals of Taiwan’s relationship with China, with the KMT’s “One China, Respective Interpretations” paradigm giving way to the DPP’s preference for maintaining the cross-strait status quo. This change is due to the difference in core values between these two parties: The KMT’s China-oriented trade and investment policies are in obvious contradiction to the DPP’s preference for diversification of economic activity—

as evidenced by President Tsai Ing-wen’s Southbound policy—and the latter party’s aim for Taiwan to be perceived as a country in its own right, legally recognized as such by the international community, and not as a mere province of China. The realism that drives global politics could prove to be an obstacle to this intention, however, especially as the other player across the Taiwan Strait, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has shown an intolerance of the DPP view and adopted a series of punishing measures against Taiwan. Given that these measures have been extended from decreasing domestic economic exchanges to increasing in-

Lt. Col. Ching-kuo Liu is a PhD student at the Graduate Institute of Strategic Studies, National Defense University of the ROC. He can be reached for comment at: liuching@rocketmail.com


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ternational suppression, this article aims to review the political transformation taking place in Taiwan and with respect to what vulnerabilities it may have to the CCP’s time-honored method of defeating its enemies by use of the “united front” strategy. The united front, along with “armed struggle” and “party buildup,” are the so-called Three Magic Weapons enunciated by Mao Zedong that derived from the historical experiences of the Chinese Communist Party’s 18-year revolutionary struggle. However much he liked using it, though, Mao was not the originator of the united front concept: It was originally adopted by Vladimir Lenin and the Russian Comintern during the 1917 Russian Revolution. According to the CCP’s explanation, “The united front is how the proletariat organizes and leads its allies. It is a powerful revolutionary force of the proletarian organization and a powerful weapon for attacking all enemies.” In less euphemistic terms, it is a strategy by which temporary alliances are formed with political foes in order to jointly defeat a major rival of the CCP. However, those political forces are not real allies for the CCP, but rather secondary enemies in the context of its ultimate political dominance. Only after the joint effort to defeat the major enemy does the party then turn its attention to defeating these weaker foes. Part of the process involves finding contradictions and conflicts within the enemy’s ranks, and using those divisions and separations to create a joint object, on the one hand, to unite forces as far as possible. The use of the united front by the CCP was even more extensive and brilliant than Lenin’s own employment of the strategy.

Boundary condition The One-China principle has been a boundary condition effective in banning the ROC (Taiwan) from taking part in international society since losing its seat in the United Nations to the PRC in 1971. After

a long history of separation from China—both since the 1949 split, but also during the 1895-1945 period of Japanese colonization—the vast majority of Taiwanese people no longer self-identify as Chinese, having developed their own lifestyle, culture, and identity. The victory of the DPP in the last presidential campaign is evidence of this weakening link to a Chinese identity. Thus, the One-China Policy

“During the Mao era, the united front strategy was used in support of the CCP’s military struggle to overturn the ROC.” is seen by many as an attempt to constrain Taiwan not just politically, but in terms of identity as well: by supporting the view that the Taiwanese are, in essence, Chinese, the CCP is employing the united front strategy to leverage the emerging rift between those on Taiwan who see themselves as Taiwanese and those who see themselves as Chinese. The more the CCP urges the DPP to agree publicly to the “1992 Consensus,” for example, the deeper the wedge is being driven between these two factions of identity. During the Mao era, the united front strategy was used in support of the CCP’s military struggle to overturn the ROC. However, in the context of increasing cross-strait exchanges since the 1980s, although the CCP has never renounced the use of force to annex Taiwan, Beijing would prefer to achieve unification with the island without bloodshed, and hence the creation of a pro-unification united front within Taiwan, and internationally. Beijing’s united front efforts toward Taiwan are diversified in a multidimensional way. After Tsai assumed office on 20 May, 2016, Beijing launched a series of hard measures trying to push her endorse the aforementioned 1992 consensus, which Beijing considers synonymous with “one China.” In the political sphere, Beijing initially cut all official commu-


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nication channels between the two sides of the strait, expressing its dissatisfaction with Tsai’s refusal to accept the consensus. In the diplomatic sphere, because of Beijing’s interference, Taiwan was rejected from taking part in the annual conference of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Moreover, nearly 200 Taiwanese fraud suspects arrested in Armenia, Cambodia, Kenya, and Malaysia found themselves extradited to China, instead of Taiwan. In the economic sphere, Beijing sharply reduced the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan, as well as suspending a milkfish export deal with aquaculturists in southern Taiwan. Consequently, tourism and aquaculture business-owners held a series of protests, attributing their losses to the DDP government’s intransigence on the cross-strait issue. As predicted by pundits and the media, Taiwan’s over reliance on cross-strait economic ties became a lever wielded by Beijing to exert political pressure on the government in Taipei—a lever that could be harnessed further if bilateral relations worsen. Although official and quasi-official communication channels across the strait have been shut down,

Beijing will not cut itself off from the Taiwanese people. On the contrary, it has emphasized its intention to maintain and even expand people-to-people relations to advance its political objectives. The Sunflower

“As part of an operation called Collecting Stars, it has targeted military veterans in Taiwan, inviting them to China for visits.” Movement that took place two years ago heavily affected Beijing’s perceptions of Taiwan society. The movement demonstrated the influential political potential of a younger generation that has long been ignored by leaders, both in Taiwan and China. It also contributed to Beijing’s adjustment of its Taiwan policy, turning its focus onto young Taiwanese. Beijing knows that it is crucial to win the hearts and minds of Taiwan people, as this is the most effective way of influencing Taiwan’s election-based politics. In 2015, during the 5th plenary session of the 18th Central Committee, Beijing officially proposed that

photo: tomscy2000 The ROC Legislative Yuan is quiet one night during the Sunflower occupation as everyone heads to bed in anticipation of a march on Ketagalan Blvd.


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photo: Matthew Diendorf An MV-22B Osprey, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM), 163 flies past Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean.

bilateral economic cooperation across the strait should be deepened to benefit more ordinary people (mostly those living at the low- to mid-income level in central and southern Taiwan), youth, and small and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Taiwan. The proposal was incorporated in the CCP’s 13th Fiveyear Plan. For instance, Beijing has launched a plan to rope in young Taiwanese entrepreneurs, providing them not only with opportunities to create their own businesses, but also providing facilities, funding, housing, and even childcare services.

Larger intentions The enticements that Beijing offers can seem irresistible to young Taiwanese, even though they may often remain skeptical about Beijing’s larger intentions in cross-strait economic cooperation. The latest poll released by the Association of Foreign Relations shows that young Taiwanese between the ages of 20 and 29 show more favorable views toward China in the aspect of helping Taiwan’s economic development. The result of this survey may not be evidence of

Beijing’s success in winning over the hearts and minds of young Taiwanese, nevertheless, the consequence is not hard to predict: Beijing has a great possibility to achieve its expected outcome in the long run. In fact, the aforementioned groups targeted by Beijing were first identified by the KMT government in 2011 as a socio-economic issue due to long-lasting recession, and to be prioritized in its economic policy. Unfortunately, Taipei failed to deal with the issue properly, leaving Beijing room to exert influence over these groups. The CCP’s united front tactics have also been working to penetrate other layers of Taiwanese society. As part of an operation called Collecting Stars, it has targeted military veterans in Taiwan, inviting them to China for visits. Recently, according to media reports, there were 32 high-ranking retired ROC generals in attendance in Beijing in November of 2016 during the CCP’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Sun Yat-sen’s birthday. It seems inappropriate for retired ROC generals to participate in the official activities of the CCP, especially since, strictly speaking, the two sides of the strait are still in a state of military


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hostility. Perhaps, as some media commentators have suggested, they merely lack political sensitivity. But the issue demands a closer look. A businessperson might go to China attracted by commercial interests, while a politician, from either the blue or green camp, might also go there seeking political gains. What advantage did those generals seek by participating in the commemoration? According to Vice Admiral (ret.) Lan Ning-li, “Why are those veterans, who fought against CCP aggression their entire military careers, willing to participate in the commemoration on the other side of the strait? What is it that drives them to go over there?” The answer may lie in the fact that the legacy of Dr. Sun Yat-sen speaks more to the erstwhile enemies across the strait than it does to the current generation of Taiwanese people photo: Wikmedia Commons and the political party they voted into power. We can see through this incident that the A World War II poster celebrates cooperation between the United States and the ROC. CCP has successfully used the symbol of Sun Yat-sen to attract patriots loyal to the ROC who feel public opinion to the effect that the ROC is synonythat their Chinese identity is eroding due to the mous with the KMT, thereby attempting to deny growth of the localization movement and the recent the legitimacy of the KMT regime by denying that political victories of the DPP that, along with other of the ROC itself. independence-leaning parties, keep questioning and Aside from downgrading the ROC politically, in challenging the legitimacy of the view of the ROC order to give birth to a Taiwanese nation, the old Chinese history and traditional culture must be consigned to history, thereby repelling the CCP’s appeal “A sense of belonging to the ROC for reunification on the basis of ethnic kinship, shared is gradually disappearing in Taiwan, but among the old-guard patriots, culture, and history. This is not to criticize the proit is finding a new link to the mainindependence forces’ own vision of Taiwan as being land, largely through the symbol of as culturally distinct from China as it is politically dis-

Sun Yat-sen.”

as a Chinese state. For instance, some pro-independentists, media commentators, scholars, and even government officials, have articulated the idea that the ROC is a government-in-exile, or even a colonial ruler over the Taiwanese. Others have manipulated

tinct, but rather to illustrate the fault line of national identity on the island that has already been causing an internal split, the severity of which would have been hard to imagine just a generation or two ago. From a semiotics perspective, the ROC’s national emblem, flag, and anthem are meaning-making symbols which ignite patriotism: so too does the image


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of Sun Yat-sen, the nation’s founder. Thus, it is too simple an explanation merely to conclude that the retired officers’ actions constitute apostasy: rather, a more nuanced explanation would have to take into account the transferral of these generals’—and by extension, many others’—sense of belonging. A sense of belonging to the ROC is gradually disappearing in Taiwan, but among the old-guard patriots, it is finding a new link to the mainland, largely through the symbol of Sun Yat-sen. This will potentially have far-reaching effects, such as whether the transfer of this sense of belonging will lead such patriots into a “deal with the devil” in exchange for the continued existence of the Republic of China.

Immediate danger The CCP’s united front tactics against Taiwan as described above, however, will only continue, and indeed increase. Comparing the CCP’s threat of force and its united front efforts, the latter poses a greater and more immediate danger to Taiwan, and is far

more difficult to cope with. Since exchanges between two sides of the strait cannot be avoided, Taiwan must always be vigilant about such united front tactics, however benign cross-strait exchanges do indeed contribute to development on both sides. To be immune to the CCP’s united front tactics, internal reconciliation of Taiwan society is the best cure. The CCP is good at spotting and even creating fissures and then using them to divide its enemy from within. Nowadays, there are many ideological disputes in Taiwan. The people of Taiwan, regardless of their different political tendencies or cultural and ethnic identities, must find common ground, and a common identity, around which to rally in order to rob the CCP of its united front opportunity. What form that identity will ultimately take is an issue that is up for discussion—will it be a return to the concept of a Free China, or a sense of Taiwanese identity, or something else, something new entirely? It is impossible to say. But this is a conversation that the people of Taiwan should be having, as their continued freedom depends upon it. n

photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC Marines display intensity and discipline during the 2016 ROC National Day Parade in Taipei.


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Strategic Vision vol. 6, no. 32 (April, 2017)

Shifting Winds

Trump Administration policies seen jeopardizing Taiwan’s security interests Wen-hao Lu

photo: ROC Presidential Office

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ROC military cadets attend the 2017 flag-raising ceremony at the ROC Presidential Office on January 1st, 2017.

ollowing then-President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he had taken a congratulatory call from the president of the Republic of China (ROC), Tsai Ing-wen, the rapt attention of the whole world has been on how this could potentially change the trilateral relationship between the United States, China, and Taiwan. This call was significant for Taiwan because it represented the first such conversation between a sitting

hearken a remarkable breakthrough and an important milestone in US-Taiwan relations. Nevertheless, the truth proved less auspicious. The incoming US president was not in favor of supporting Taiwan’s diplomatic development, as it at first seemed. Rather, as an extremely successful businessman, Trump appeared to have been using the move as part of a “give-and-take” strategy for handling the trade deficit and the North Korea issues with China.

president in Taiwan and a US president (or presidentelect) since Washington broke official diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979. For the Tsai administration, there was good reason to celebrate, because it could

Moreover, compared to his strong criticisms prior to taking office, President Trump’s rhetoric on China has softened, further demonstrating that Washington will likely “give” more in order to “take” something from

Colonel Wen-hao Lu is currently attending the US Marine Corps War College in Quantico, Virginia. He can be reached for comment at luwenhao73@gmail.com


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Beijing. In analyzing Trump’s give-and-take strategy, it is naive to believe that the United State will put Taiwan’s security interests first while Trump is trying to earn points of leverage from China. In this situation, it is important for Taiwan’s policy makers not to pick a side or to depend on one specific party. Instead, Taiwan should pursue a better option, which is to maintain good relationships with all parties in the region. The drive to bring jobs back to the United States has been a successful campaign strategy that helped Donald Trump to win the presidential election. Trump made trade a centerpiece of his presidential campaign and railed against what he said were bad deals with foreign countries, which are taking jobs from Americans. Trump identified China as the prime culprit. Trump’s intent to raise trade issues with China was even more obvious in the presidential transition: He continued to accuse Beijing of stealing jobs from the United States, questioned the One China Policy, and appointed a prominent China hawk

to head the National Trade Council. These moves seem reasonable in view of Trump’s efforts to bend China to his will. These measures, particularly the questioning of the One China Policy, have touched a sensitive nerve in China. Therefore, it will be an extremely difficult task for Trump to make headway against China, and Chinese President Xi Jinping will no doubt take strong actions to counteract such provocations from Washington.

The negotiator In Trump’s 1987 book “The Art of the Deal,” the author expresses pride and confidence in his negotiation skills and considers himself to be one of the world’s most adept negotiators. Prior to coming to power, the way he has dealt with China demonstrated his negotiation approach. As an extraordinarily successful businessman, Trump will likely fall back on his negotiation capabilities to achieve his objectives. It is easy to observe that the Trump administration

photo: Steven Doty A US Air Force F-16 and a Royal Australian Air Force F-18A Hornet taxi at William Air Force Base during Exercise Diamond Shield 2017.


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photo: Ryan Harper Three US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers conduct maneurvers during an exercise in the Western Pacific.

has employed a give-and-take strategy so far. For example, in order to show his goodwill to Beijing, he appointed Xi Jin-ping’s long-term friend Terry Branstad as the ambassador to China and cited mutual respect between Washington and Beijing. On the other hand, he named Peter Navarro, an ardent critic of China and author of the books “The Coming China Wars” and “Death by China,” to head the White House National Trade Council, which raised speculation about a possible trade war with China. Clearly, Trump’s phone call with President Tsai Ing-wen and his statements hinting at a possible change to the One China Policy reveal that Trump is not above using Taiwan as a bargaining chip in this give-and-take strategy. During his December, 2016 interview on Fox News Sunday, President-elect Trump stated, “I fully understand the One China Policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China Policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.” This remark signals that Trump is trying to exploit the policy as another good measure to pressure China. Questioning the One China policy may seem like

a quick and clever way to get China’s attention. However, it could prove to be a reckless and ill-considered move. Since Washington and Beijing established diplomatic ties in 1979, the One China Policy has been the cornerstone of Sino-US relations and the fundamental bedrock of Chinese policy-making and diplomacy. President Barack Obama, in a long farewell news conference, warned the incoming Trump administration that the longstanding One China Policy has “kept the peace” and is at the core of how China sees itself.

Strategic ambiguity In fact, the ambiguity behind this decades-old policy actually benefits the United States, China, and Taiwan. The United States is not forced to adopt a position on just what “One China” means or on how reunification could be accomplished, and it remains free to engage with Taiwan economically and militarily. In addition, adhering to this principle can actually minimize the sensitivity of the Taiwan factor in Sino-US relations. On the other hand, challenging the


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One China Policy would give Beijing an excuse to resist the US military presence in the Asia Pacific. Clearly, Beijing is the major beneficiary of the One China Policy. It has enabled China to claim political legitimacy in the United Nations and other world bodies while helping it to shut Taiwan out of the international community almost completely—even before China’s economic growth took root. As a result, the policy benefits China because it virtually rules out the possibility of Taiwan independence, and forces the United States and other nations to pay lip service to Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is a province of China. photo: ROC Presidential Office Taiwan also derives benefits from the ROC President Tsai Ing-wen signs a photograph during a visit to a naval base. One China Policy insofar as it maintains the status quo, which is what most people in Taiwan support. They believe that Beijing will not ey, rather than being paid for by Mexico as Trump interfere with the island’s de facto self-rule as long originally pledged. as it is convinced that Taiwan will not move toward independence. “The Trump-Xi summit in Florida disSince his inauguration, President Trump has made played neither fierce confrontation on trade issues nor disagreement many attempts to fulfill his campaign promises. over the One China Policy.” However, various setbacks have forced Trump to realize that some issues might not be solved as easily as he originally expected. Domestically, he signed an In observing Trump’s very different approaches toexecutive order to ban the citizens of countries such ward trade with China before and after taking office, as Iran and Afghanistan from entering the United it is fair to say that the US president now has a clearer States for a period of a few months. This order was picture of Sino-US relations and a better understandquickly suspended by judges in several states due to ing of the consequence of a trade war between the concerns over its constitutionality. Moreover, the efworld’s two largest economies. In February 2017, just fort to repeal Obamacare failed to get consensus from 22 days after his inauguration, President Trump had the Senate, with some Republican senators refushis first conversation with his Chinese counterpart, ing to support the new health care plan. The muchPresident Xi Jinping. In it, Trump committed himself discussed wall planned for the US-Mexican border to honoring the One China Policy, at Xi’s request. In will now have to be paid for with US taxpayer monaddition, the Trump-Xi summit in Florida displayed


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neither fierce confrontation on trade issues nor disagreement over the One China Policy. Instead, both presidents emphasized the need to build a warm relationship and engage in more practical cooperation in the future. It is significant to point out that Trump has said his administration would not label China a currency manipulator—again, breaking a major campaign promise. As a person who has engaged in give-and-take negotiating throughout his business career, one can understand Trump’s attraction to identifying and utilizing points of leverage. However, the means he uses could put Taiwan in a risky position and further destabilize the regional security environment. The worse scenario would start with a trade war between Washington and Beijing. Taipei, which heavily relies on exports, would experience a catastrophic economic hit. It is also possible that Taiwan’s national interests will be damaged if Trump promises to give something to China in exchange for cooperation on, for example, reining in the regime in North Korea. A well-known Kenyan proverb perfectly describes

Taiwan’s awkward and perilous position: “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” Taiwan is the grass in this scenario, and will be trampled on if the government fails to recognize the real situation and to think and to act cleverly. The pro-China foreign policy initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, which seeks to balance alliance commitments to the United States with a desire to build stronger ties with China, can serve as a great case study for Taiwan’s policy makers. Under Trump’s give-and-take strategy, completely depending on one side and totally ignoring or even infuriating the other will not be helpful in terms of the nation’s economic and regional stability. At this critical moment, Taipei’s best option is to maintain a careful neutrality if the two powers move toward conflict. Moreover, Taiwan does not want to fall victim to the give-and-take strategy. Rather than shutting the door and sticking to ideology, it is better to keep cross-strait communication channels open. This will help prevent misunderstanding and build mutual trust. n

photo: Chad Swysgood A US Marine climbs to the top of a CH-53E Super Stallion to conduct a post flight maintenance check aboard amphibious assault ship USS America.


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Strategic Vision vol. 6, no. 32 (April, 2017)

Standing Alone

Taiwan faces continued challenges against PRC efforts at international isolation JS Bajwa

photo: ROC Presidential Office ROC President Tsai Ing-wen reviews an honor guard during an official ceremony.

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n May 20, 2016 President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was sworn-in as President of the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan after winning the elections in January that year. Just days after naming two parliamentarians to attend the events, India backtracked on its decision, and declined to send any official government representatives to attend the inauguration. There was subsequently no official representation at

decision not to attend these events was done in deference to Beijing’s coercive dictates, which demand that all countries endorse its One China Policy and refrain from engaging in any official contact with Taiwan. In her inaugural address, President Tsai said that the Taiwanese people were “committed to the defense of our freedom and democracy as a way of life,” adding that a “stable and peaceful cross-strait relationship must be continuously promoted.” Tsai called

the swearing-in of President Tsai, or at the dinner banquet later that evening. However, some Indian scholars, as well as a Delhi-based BharatiyaJanta Party (BJP) leader, attended in a private capacity. India’s

upon the governments on either side of the Taiwan Strait to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people of both sides.” What President Tsai said in her inaugu-

Lieutenant General JS Bajwa is the current editor of Indian Defence Review. He can be reached for comment at jsbajwa@indiandefencereview.com


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photo: Byron Linder Sailors aboard the destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) prepare to join USS Dewey (DDG 105) for a replenishment-at-sea.

ral speech likely irked Beijing, particularly her focus on Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, saying that it is every Taiwanese person’s responsibility to safeguard this progress. The DPP has held the presidency only once before, while the Kuomintang (KMT) has held power for most of the past 70 years. The outgoing president, Ma Ying-jeou, lost public support largely due to perceptions that he had an overly friendly approach to Beijing, as well as his poor handling of the economy and the nation’s widening wealth gap. President Tsai belongs to the DPP, a party that has traditionally leaned toward self-determination—widely interpreted as meaning outright independence—and it is therefore viewed unkindly by China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and vows to achieve unification in the future. Beijing has been demanding that Tsai acknowledge the One China principle under a framework known as the “1992 Consensus:” a tacit understanding between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the KMT that there is only one China, and that Taiwan belongs to it. The two par-

ties, though, have different interpretations about just what “One China” means. The DPP has always rejected the 1992 Consensus. Interestingly, President Tsai has emphasized the importance of maintaining the amorphous status-quo relationship with China while also alluding to the concept of One China, though she has fallen short of explicitly accepting it. She has also claimed that cross-strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security.

Bedrock principle China has pressured the Tsai administration to stick to the One China principle, which formed the basis of cross-strait relations under the KMT. China has, in the past, threatened to take the island by force should it became more vocal in expressions of independence. Even today, China has thousands of conventional missiles deployed within striking range of the island. While India officially endorses its One China Policy and, like most of the rest of the world, does not rec-


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ognize the ROC as a country, the reason for initially accepting and then ultimately declining the invitation to send government representatives begs explanation. One possibility is that the government realized that China could use it as an excuse to create a diplomatic embarrassment and snub the Indian President, who made a visit to Guangzhou and Beijing in May 2016.

“Their vibrant democracy has given Taiwan’s people a voice: the island’s leaders are their representatives and are expected to govern by the will of the majority.“ So it was likely a prudent, realist diplomatic move. It is unprecedented in world political history for a nation like China to have so successfully coerced every nation it deals with to isolate another nation (Taiwan) because it considers it to be a part of its territory. China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council and its huge economic power and market clout have forced these nations to subscribe to Beijing’s agenda. It is a tragic collective travesty of justice with regard to human rights. Developed nations and democratic nations that pretend to care about human rights cannot give a satisfactory explain for why, in exchange for some economic gains, they have agreed to treat a free and democratic nation as a pariah at the behest of another, albeit larger, nation that is far less free and decidedly not democratic. Does Taiwan exist at the pleasure of its giant neighbor? Would this have still been the case if China’s economic rise was not of the magnitude as it has been? It may be conjectural to say so, but if there is a downward slide in China’s economy and crippling internal unrest in its society, will Taiwan’s geopolitical fortunes change? This may, at some future point in time, become a scenario that is far less hypothetical.

Their vibrant democracy has given Taiwan’s people a voice: the island’s leaders are their representatives and are expected to govern by the will of the majority. When the people ousted the KMT, it was because they felt it had deviated from their collective wishes. They ushered in a party which understood their concerns. This concept is alien to the ruling elite in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Only CCP members can become PRC leaders, and these members represent the Party hierarchy, which is detached and insulated from the common citizen. China does not appear to have formulated a policy for unification that appeals to the majority of the citizens in Taiwan. When faced with questions about Taiwan’s democracy and quest for international space, PRC-based scholars typically repeat official-sounding rhetoric by proclaiming that the government in Taiwan is illegal, that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and that the unification of Taiwan with China will be beneficial for Taiwan.

Arbitration In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s tribunal in The Hague ruled against China in the South China Sea arbitration initiated by the Philippines. Taiwan was not invited to join the arbitration, nor was an opinion sought from it. However, Vietnam did file a statement giving three points which included its support of the Philippines in filing the case and rejecting Beijing’s Nine-Dash Line. However, China aggressively trashed the judgment despite international opinion in favor of it. Since then it has continued to callously disregard the rest of the world and gone about building military assets in the South China Sea with a snooty nonchalance. The whole exercise by the previous government of the Philippines to bring the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration was practically given a boot when newly elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte began cozying up to


18  b  STRATEGIC VISION

photo: David R. Krigbaum Indian Navy Vice Adm. Harish Bisht, Rear Adm. Koji Manabe from Japan, and Rear Adm. Brian Hurley from the US shake hands and pose for a photograph.

China, causing the rest of the world to squirm embarrassingly. With a new incumbent in the White House in Washington there was a mellifluous drama played out when President Donald Trump spoke directly to President Tsai after taking office. The telephone conversation shook the Chinese who reacted with a measure of aggressive diplomacy and reiterated that the basics of US-China relations hinged on Washington’s One China Policy. Since that jolt, Trump has appeased Chinese President Xi Jinping, starting with a telephone conversation wherein he acknowledged the US commitment to the policy. For a couple of weeks it prompted the community of nations to do some soul searching on the plight of Taiwan. With Trump looking inwards to a phase of consolidation and less military commitment globally, the rest of the world may be sympathetic to the situation con-

China’s ominous shadow over the Asia-Pacific Region looms larger. The US Pivot to Asia now seems a mirage. With all these dynamic geopolitical, economic, and strategic developments, the situation does not auger well for a diplomatic—much less a military— intervention by the global powers or regional alliances to protect Taiwan from being forcefully annexed to China. Some scholars from Taiwan opine that the Chinese leadership only understands how to deal with other dictatorial and military leaders, So they do not look at Taiwanese leaders in a different way from their own. Accordingly, they expect the Taiwanese government to make decisions without regard to civil society and public opinion. Chinese leaders do not factor in the opinion of the people since they are not accustomed to accepting versions from outside the CCP narrative. In their view, the concept is alien and disruptive.

fronting Taiwan, but they are not likely to adopt a militarily protective stance toward it. Another important decision by President Trump was the withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Earlier, Beijing had advocated the rival Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a counter. With the TPP in the doldrums,

Thus, there is little expectation that PRC leaders will respect the will and interests of the citizens of Taiwan. With regard to the future, many scholars in Taiwan have no opinion or do not express much optimism. It appears then that Taiwan will have to continue to fight for recognition, and bear the burden of being largely excluded from the international community. n


b  19

Strategic Vision vol. 6, no. 32 (April, 2017)

Potential Partnership India and Taiwan must strengthen relations to balance against China’s rise Prakash Katoch

photo: James Evans A US Navy officer provides a tour of the USS Carl Vinson to Indian Naval officers during Exercise Malabar.

C

hina is obsessed with Taiwan. Both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have made unification a high priority, especially since Taiwan holds historic importance stemming both from the Chinese Civil War and the legacy of foreign intervention. More importantly, Taiwan straddles important sea lanes and is a potential base for foreign military forces. Failure to unify Taiwan with China in the future is considered by the CCP as potentially dangerous to its political hold on the country, in addition to the loss of face the PLA would suffer. Chinese con-

cerns that Taiwan could be used as a foreign military base underscore the importance of Taiwan’s geostrategic position. In the past, there has been a great deal of speculation about whether the United States should defend Taiwan or abandon it in favor of better relations with China. However, it is clear that purely from the point of view of its geostrategic location, Washington will continue to have a great interest in maintaining the status quo between Beijing and Taipei. China, having added her first domestically built aircraft carrier, is already in the process of establishing a carrier battle

General Prakash Katoch (ret.) is a former ranking officer in the Indian Army. He can be reached for comment at prakashkatoch7@gmail.com


20  b  STRATEGIC VISION

photo: Gabrial Weber Five E2-D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft taxi down the runway after arriving at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

group. China has massive plans for the development of a blue-water navy, which will enable it to project power far into the Indo-Pacific. In geographical terms, China feels somewhat boxed in by the first island chain—a string of islands which begins with Japan and Japan’s Ryukyu Island chain and extends through to Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Australia. This geographic handicap helps explain China’s extensive maritime claims in the Pacific Ocean and its frantic activities to reclaim reefs, establishing military facilities and airstrips, and extending ADIGs.

Extending influence If Taiwan is annexed by China, the PLA Navy will be able to extend its reach to the second island chain, right down to Guam, the Marianas, and even some other smaller islands in the central Pacific. Taiwan’s ports and harbors would provide Chinese submarines with quick access to the deep waters of the Pacific. Therefore, Taiwan must logically remain critical to

US interests in the region, both strategically and militarily. China’s strategy of claiming territory in contested areas around its borders deserves closer inspection. When China began emphasizing its claims on contested territory, this mainly applied to Tibet (annexed by China) and Taiwan. Over time, China’s territorial claims have grown to include vast tracts of the South China Sea (SCS) and the East China Sea (ECS), and areas to the south of its border including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley. Chinese claims over Indian territory encompass 90,000 square kilometers of the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh, which was claimed as late as 2005. An underlying problem is that China’s thinking is increasingly driven by the Middle Kingdom syndrome, which is fueled by a deep sense of historical injustice, combined with a desire for a Chinese renaissance which seeks to regain former glory. In light of its growing power and potent nationalism, Chinese attempts to gradually change the status of contested territories must be opposed. If China


Potential Partnership  b  21

can bully Taiwan into accepting the name “Chinese Taipei,” what would stop it from demanding that Arunachal Pradesh be called “Chinese Arunachal Pradesh” or “Chinese South Tibet?” It is about time that the Chinese bluff be called, and that China be taken to task. China’s actions and activity in the area of Kashmir are also a serious concern for India. China has guaranteed Pakistan’s territorial integrity without clarifying its stand on Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), which is a highly contested area with India. China is also deploying missiles in Gilgit-Baltistan, is driving the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through Indian Territories under illegal occupation of Pakistan and provides tacit support to Pakistan’s proxy war against India. Recent reports also indicate that Chinese intelligence organizations have played a role in the cooperation and merger of nine militant groups in Northeast India, including the NSCNKhaplang and the ULFA faction led by Paresh Baruah (sheltered by China in the past several months) to form the “United National Liberation Front of West South East Asia.”

Greater participation From the discussion above, it should be clear that any past Indian support to China’s territorial claims should be reconsidered in light of past and present Chinese actions which affect India’s security. At the same time, Delhi’s One China Policy should be challenged to allow greater international participation for Taiwan. The global community must do more to facilitate Taiwan’s participation in the international arena. India can also play a role in strengthening Taiwan’s economy and its international status. Recently, India and Taiwan have made some progress in economic and cultural relations. In December 2012, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) approved the opening of a branch office (an unofficial consulate)

of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Centre in the city of Chennai. Both countries are making efforts to significantly expand bilateral trade and investments, especially in the fields of information technology, energy, telecommunications and electronics.

“It would be in the interests of both India and Taiwan to engage strategically at the diplomatic and security levels through institutionalized dialogues both at Track I and Track II levels.” Major Indian exports to Taiwan include waste oil and naphtha, cereals, cotton, organic chemicals, copper, aluminum, and food residues. Major Taiwanese exports to India include integrated circuits, machinery and other electronic products. India is also keen to attract Taiwanese investment, particularly in hi-tech and labor-intensive industries. By the end of 2013, more than 70 Taiwanese enterprises had invested or set up factories in India, with cumulative investments amounting to more than US$1.4 billion. In 2013, bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$6.17 billion. Today, more than 80 Taiwanese companies and entities have a presence in India. Bilateral trade and Taiwanese investments in India are likely to grow exponentially after the conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, a move initiated by the MEA in 2011. As part of science and technology cooperation, 29 Indo-Taiwan joint proposals were under implementation last year, as a follow up to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Taiwan’s TECC and India’s ITA in 2007, and another MoU between Taiwan’s Academia Sinica and the Indian National Science Academy signed in 2012. In the field of education, MoUs to recognize each other’s university degrees were signed between the Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education


22  b  STRATEGIC VISION

photo: Chris Williamson Landing craft air cushion (LCAC) assigned to Naval Beach Unit 7 conduct well deck operations with the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay.

of Taiwan (FICHET) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) in 2010. This has resulted in close cooperation and frequent exchanges between the two countries.

Four Taiwan Education Centers have been set up in India as platforms for academic cooperation, including the teaching of Mandarin Chinese. Knowledge of Mandarin Chinese is important because it will enable students and professionals in India to understand the primary language in both Taiwan and China. In Taiwan, Chinese-language enrichment scholarships are being provided to Indian students. Taiwanese

tions, education, culture, and cooperation in science and technology. China has very carefully invested in countries surrounding India with unambiguous strategic objectives while India is pursuing the Act East Policy. It is only now that the present government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started to engage countries on China’s periphery. Through India’s Act East Policy, and Taiwan’s new Southbound Policy, the two governments can begin to forge a closer strategic alignment. Given that India and Taiwan both face militaryrelated challenges from China, the two governments should also increase exchange and dialogue between military and security personnel. With its similar culture and language, as well as its long history fac-

universities and colleges also provide scholarships to attract outstanding Indian students. On an average, about 600 Indian students study in Taiwan annually. India and Taiwan should build upon these recent agreements by signing a free trade agreement. An FTA would automatically enhance economic relations, in addition to expanding people-to-people rela-

ing military and security challenges from the PRC, Taiwan’s scholars could greatly contribute to India’s understanding of Chinese strategy and thought. It would be in the interests of both India and Taiwan to engage strategically at the diplomatic and security levels through institutionalized dialogues both at Track I and Track II levels. n

Academic cooperation


b  23 

Strategic Vision vol. 6, no. 32 (April, 2017)

Questionable Commitment Willingness to supply arms is the key measure of US commitment to Taiwan Kitsch Liao & Michal Thim

T

he election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States introduced a new element of uncertainty into the TaiwanUS relationship. Early into his presidency, and even before assuming office, Trump stirred US-China relations with a congratulatory phone conversation with Republic of China (ROC) President Tsai Ing-wen on 2 December, 2016, and a subsequent phone call with People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi

Jinping on 9 February, in which the new US president pledged to abide by Washington’s One China Policy. The commentariat in both China and Taiwan exploded on both occasions with what was perceived as a challenge or outright change to the current status quo, and then its subsequent restoration. It was neither. The former was certainly unusual considering how the United States has traditionally communicated with ROC government officials, yet these conven-

photo: D. Myles Cullen US President Donald Trump, seen here greeting an airman at MacDill Air Force Base, has vowed to increase support and strengthen the military.

Kitsch Liao Yen-fan is a Taipei-based analyst for the Cyber Security firm Team T5, specializing in cyber security, air power, and the ROC military. He can be reached at charlie_1701@msn.com Michal Thim is a fellow of the Metropolitan Society for International Affairs (US) and a research fellow of the Association for International Affairs (Czech Republic). Michal tweets @michalthim


24  b  STRATEGIC VISION

tions are largely the result of self-imposed restrictions serving no real purpose. The call had no potential to redefine the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Trump’s relatively minor intrusions into how the status quo is perceived notwithstanding, it is the issue of arms sales that will provide a real litmus test of the US commitment to Taiwan and its continuing adherence to the One China Policy (as opposed to the One China principle as perceived by Beijing). Previous administrations have more or less followed the playbook of the US One China Policy, which includes maintaining a strong bilateral relationship with Taiwan. US policy toward Taiwan is that its status is not settled: as far as the United States is concerned, it acknowledges that Beijing sees Taiwan as part of China, but Washington neither supports nor refutes that position, holding instead that this is a question that both sides must settle peacefully among themselves. So far, the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy has not significantly deviated from the previous administration. However, Trump’s usual business practices aggressively reach for potential concessions from opponents without realizing the commitments made. Hence it is possible that Trump could put US support for Taiwan and Beijing’s position on Taiwan as bargaining chips while remaining just short of committing, or perhaps even reneging, and have Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clarifying the US position afterward, just as in the case of the phone call with President Tsai. The debate on Taiwan-US-China relations prior to the Xi-Trump summit is a case in point. During the week before the summit, the White House held a briefing on the Xi visit and the expected agenda of the meeting. When asked about how the issue of Taiwan would be handled, a senior White House official replied that the United States adheres to its One China Policy and that this policy is “based on the three joint communiqués with China, as well as

the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). That is a longstanding policy of the United States. That is a policy that the president has reaffirmed.” That was a clear suggestion that there is no consideration of change in US Taiwan policy. The key quality of Taiwan-US relations is that it is not the exclusive prerogative of the executive branch, unlike most of the foreign policy agenda. Via the TRA, the US Congress can prevent a president from making one-sided concessions on Taiwan. Thus, whatever deal Trump’s administration may try to make at Taiwan’s expense, it would need Congressional approval. To signal Congress’s resolve in upholding and improving relations with Taiwan, the Taiwan Caucus co-chairs in the House and Senate urged Trump, prior to the summit with Xi, to adhere to the TRA and the Six Assurances as the cornerstones

“The key quality of Taiwan-US relations is that it is not the exclusive prerogative of the executive branch, unlike most of the foreign policy agenda.” of US Taiwan policy, and to refrain from consulting China on arms sales to Taiwan prior to their approval. The letter was signed by 147 members of the Congress from both sides of the aisle. With the first major meeting between leaders of the US and China out of the way, the next test will be the Trump administration’s handling of arms sales to Taiwan. Prior to the Xi-Trump summit, there was much speculation. According to the Japan Times daily, weapons under consideration included the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system and F-35 fighters, though there was no indication that Taiwan made an official request for these items or had been consulted. This raises suspicion that the information about planned arms sales was released specifically to perturb Beijing, as a negotiation tactic. While the Taiwan air force desperately wants (and


Questionable Commitment  b  25 

photo: ROC MND ROC Military Police special forces disembarking from a UH-1H helicopter from the ROC Army 602nd Air Cavalry Brigade during a counter-terrorism exercise.

in a few years may need) the F-35, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has rejected the deployment of THAAD under current conditions. But the United States could try to combine key technology transfers for Taiwan’s indigenous submarine program as a way to push Taiwan into purchasing THAAD, complementing other existing BMD assets in the region, and decreasing the utility of the People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force. Attempts made by the Bush administration attempts to normalize US-Taiwan arms sales and make them similar to America’s foreign military sales (FMS) with other nations did not quite work out as intended. They do provide flexibility for Taiwan to acquire low-priority systems in conjunction with US acquisitions, such as with the proposed Anti-Submarine Warfare helicopter acquisition alongside the US Navy, which saves money for both sides. However, major acquisitions such as jets and submarines have been continuously deferred, or denied outright by both Bush and Obama. Thus, a Trump administration committed to speeding up needed arms sales would be a welcome change. However, it would not be an improvement if the

Trump administration used arms sales as mere leverage in its dealings with Beijing. Such a course of action would be in serious breach of standing US Taiwan policy and a direct violation of the Six Assurances. The three most prominent defense items promoted by Taiwan and speculated on the US side are the fifth generation F-35 stealth fighter, the THAAD missile defense system, and technology transfers for Taiwan’s indigenous defense submarine (IDS) program. A closer look at each of the three is therefore in order. The DIA observed in its 2010 Taiwan Air Defense Status Assessment that the combat potential of the current ROC Air Force (ROCAF) fleet is somewhat less than its numbers would suggest. The 66 F-5s are nearing the end of their operational life, the F-CK1s lack endurance, and the Mirage 2000’s exorbitant maintenance costs affect their operational readiness. The proposed temporary solution of 66 F-16C/Ds, both to boast the average operational sortie rate of the entire fleet and to accommodate the planned transition of half of the F-CK-1 fleet into Lead-in Trainers, was consistently denied by the Obama administration. However with the severe shortage


26  b  STRATEGIC VISION

of pilots that the ROCAF is currently experiencing, an increase in airframe numbers may not solve the problem. Instead, qualitative solutions such as the ongoing upgrade of the current Viper fleet to F-16V standards and the eventual acquisition of F-35s may be required. The latter is a more capable platform which can also function as a force multiplier due to its capability to function as individual intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) nodes for land-based sensors, since the E-2T AWACs would be a target of Chinese electronic warfare countermeasures and kinetic strikes.

Tactical acquisitions

The acquisition of diesel-electric submarines is another long-standing issue. The Bush administration approved the project in April of 2001 but continuously deferred it afterwards. The Obama administration blacklisted these items in any future arms acquisition talks. Yet the need for this asymmetric platform was suggested in internal assessments by the US Defense Intelligence Agency and ROC Navy. Hence, the IDS program was launched last year. Taiwan’s China Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC) is the principal contractor for the project. However, critical technology transfer requirements remain problematic, including periscopes and the torpedo tubes. With the prospect of acquiring such technologies from European sources looking slim, and the

While the acquisition horizon may stretch past the delivery of tier-4 participants of the original JSF program such as Singapore, with potential delivery nearing the end of the 2020s, the acquisition of the F-35 would be consistent with Taiwan’s strategic and tactical requirements.

Japanese requiring consent from the United States, both President Tsai and Commander in Chief of the Navy Huang Shu-kuang made it a priority item in their recent visit to America. Bolstering Taiwan’s missile defense by acquiring the THAAD system is perhaps the least pressing issue among the three. China’s concern, and the US


Questionable Commitment  b  27 

plan for the deployment of theater missile defense in Taiwan can be traced back two decades. There is no doubt that the deployment of THAAD against Chinese ballistic missiles, especially the short-range models, would be tactically effective, albeit expensive. The existing deployment of 10 Patriot batteries supplemented by future indigenous Tien Kung 3s, and the new strategic planning as laid out in the 2017 Quadrennial Defense Review, have led to a statement from the MND rejecting the possibility of acquiring THAAD for Taiwan in the immediate future. Another potential concern, and the reason for likely US interest in a deploying the system in Taiwan, is that the X-band fire-control radar of the THAAD system—currently the largest in the world—would allow detailed information-gathering on all future Chinese ballistic missile tests. This would create an escalation with China that would provides little tactical advantage for Taiwan at a high cost. However this does present the MND with leverage during arms sales negotiations if efforts to acquire critical technologies for the indigenous submarine program fail.

Shirley Kan, formerly a Taiwan expert with the Congressional Research Service, once remarked that the TRA was an ingeniously crafted piece of legislation in that it has successfully provided Taiwan with what it needed throughout the varying agendas of different administrations. However the transition from an annual arms-sales talk model to the “as-needed” FMS model has yet to resolve the issues of Chinese resistance and mismatched procedural timing. It has also failed to prevent succeeding administrations from interfering with the process for political reasons. A return to regular arms-sales talks (provided they take place more often) would be helpful in resolving some of the issues mentioned above. The Trump administration’s approach to Taiwan (and by extension to China) will be demonstrated by its actions on arms sales. The US Congress has stressed that the arms sales part of the TRA must be upheld due to the pressure that Chinese military modernization is putting on Taiwan’s defense. Failure to address the arms sales issue head on or, worse yet, treating it as leverage in dealings with Beijing would be an ill-advised approach. n

photo: Xuan shisheng A Mirage 2000-5EI of the ROCAF at Kangshan Air Base. While effective, their high maintenance costs affect their operational readiness.


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Profile for Strategic Vision

Strategic Vision, Issue 32  

Strategic Vision is a journal published by the Taiwan Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides anal...

Strategic Vision, Issue 32  

Strategic Vision is a journal published by the Taiwan Center for Security Studies and the ROC National Defense University that provides anal...

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